Even though the bustling and bright lights of Nashville are nothing like the hills and hollers of his native West Virginia, Logan Halstead was unfazed during a composed performance from EXIT/IN for his AMERICANAFEST debut on Friday night (September 22).
The artist tore into several stripped back stories from his debut record, Dark Black Coal, like 'Kentucky Sky' — which puts the love for his home to song — and 'Man’s Gotta Eat', a song that shines a light on poverty, malnourishment and the lengths people will go to procure food and basic necessities.
Just like Appalachia, Halstead’s songs are raw and more than meets the eye. His music is a vehicle to break down stereotypes and portray the truest form of life and the people there, both good and bad. No song of Halstead’s is more emblematic of this than 'Dark Black Coal'.
First released in 2020 as a video with RadioWV – the same YouTube channel who recently launched Oliver Anthony to viral fame with 'Rich Men North Of Richmond' – 'Dark Black Coal' tells the story of sacrifice by those risking their lives in mines to support families back home and the corporate greed of the coal barons they work for.
While the songs of Dark Black Coal took up the bulk of his set, Halstead also fit in two covers that further cast a light on his musical influences and upbringing.
The show opened with a rendition of Blue Highway’s 'Tears Fell On Missouri' and later closed with Hammertowne’s 'The Roof Is Coming Down', both songs that sonically were a world away from their original counterparts, but captivating nonetheless.
Halstead has several shows scheduled to round out 2023, including Appalachia On The Rocks — a Tyler Childers post-Red Rocks party in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 29 — as well as a run of shows supporting Nolan Taylor.
Taken from his live performance at Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, September 22nd, 2023.
For more on AMERICANAFEST 2023, see below:
All photos by Laura Ord