Music Monday #21: Katie Cummins

Katie Cummins shares her favorite live tunes and her love of concerts in this edition of Music Monday.

It wasn’t until this past winter, when my cousin informed me that she’d never been to a concert, that I realized how large of a part live music and concerts had played in my life. When I look back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories are dancing with my little sister at Waterfront Wednesdays and bluegrass festivals and street performances. 

I still remember my first real concert, when I was 13, going to see Coldplay at the KFC Yum! Center. My dad had gotten suite tickets through his work and I had been incredibly excited. We went to dinner and he taught me how to sneak into the front row for the opener, Alessia Cara. When Coldplay was performing, we were the only two in the entire PNC Bank suite dancing. I’m sure we looked like complete idiots, but at least we were idiots having fun. Since then, I’ve told myself that I would spare no expense when it comes to attending concerts. I’ve seen all my favorite artists — The Avett Brothers, Houndmouth (which I wrote about two years ago for OTR here), Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Dawes… The list goes on.

The last live concert I attended was a part of The Lumineers’ III tour. It was the same day as us juniors took the ACT. My friends and I were so close to the stage that I was leaning on it for most of the show. That was on March 10, three days before school was closed for the rest of the school year. 

The week following The Lumineers’ concert will probably be the weirdest week of my life. Schools closed, restaurants closed, toilet paper grew wings and flew off the shelves, and our governor started giving daily press conferences like we were preparing for Armageddon (which, in a way, I guess we were) (or still are).

That week was weird and kind of awful and, at times, terrifying, but nothing gripped me with more panic or fear than when my mom informed me that The Lumineers’ concert was likely going to be the last concert I attended until the pandemic came to an end. Soon after she said that, Forecastle was canceled. Then The Head and the Heart’s Living Mirage tour was canceled. Then John Prine, who was supposed to perform in Louisville in June, passed away from complications related to COVID-19. I cried when that happened. 

One thing that’s gotten me through the past four months is the live recordings of performances that some of my favorite artists have put out on Spotify. I’m happy to share them with OTR’s audience.


Artist: John Prine

Album: “John Prine Live”

Song: “Mexican Home – Live”

I had to start with a John Prine song. My dad played this version a lot for me when I was little. He had this entire album on cassette tape and wore it out he played it so much. The live album captures the true beauty of Prine’s artistic talents — his ability to tell a story with both his words and music. I highly recommend checking out this entire album (and if you only have time for one more song, “The Oldest Baby in the World,” which features a story).

This live version of the song is actually a lot different than the studio-recorded version. It features only Prine’s acoustic guitar and his voice. Whereas the studio-recording is approaching cheerful-sounding, this version is most definitely melancholy. This makes sense, considering that it is Prine’s reflection on his own childhood, with the song ultimately culminating in his father’s death.

Artist: Tyler Childers

Featured On: “Take Me Home: A Concert for West Virginia, Vol.1 (Recorded Live)”

Songs: “Rocks and Relics (Live)”

I first discovered Tyler Childers — a Lexington native — last year at Forecastle. I was dragged to his concert by two of my friends, who attend a fiddle camp in eastern Kentucky with the fiddler in the band. Now Childers, with his catchy songs and laid-back lyrics, is one of my favorite artists (along with his fiddler).

Although this song doesn’t feature a lot of the fiddle, it does capture the live experience that Childers is able to put on. I love the way Childers’ voice slides up and down on the same note. It’s fun to mimic. This version is the only version Childers has released.

Artist: The Avett Brothers

Album: “Live Vol. Four”

Song: “Rejects in the Attic”

I’ve listened to this song since the beginning of my sophomore year, although I’ve been a fan of The Avett Brothers since the eighth grade. The Avett Brothers likely tied with about a dozen other bands for my favorite artist (clearly, I’m highly decisive). 

I love this not only because you can hear the despair and hopelessness in Scott Avett’s voice at the start. You can hear the way their voices build to a happy place. The difference between the way they sing “Winter’s on its way here to collect” the first and second times perfectly encapsulates this. This is the only version The Avett Brothers have released.

Artist: The Avett Brothers

Album: “Live Vol. Two”

Song: “November Blues”

This song is my favorite song by The Avett Brothers. I picked up on it while seeing The Avett Brothers for the second time, back in November with my mom. I wrote down the lyrics at the concert and looked the song up afterward. I love the harmonies of the brothers and the way the song picks up its pace steadily. 

The studio-recorded album titles the song “November Blue,” which I thought was interesting. In 2006, four years after “November Blue” was released, The Avett Brothers released a song called “Denouncing November Blue,” which is supposed to signal their ability to get over the girl that the original song was about. 

Artist: Houndmouth

Album: “Spotify Session”

Song: “Black Gold”

This isn’t my favorite Houndmouth song but it is my favorite live song of theirs.  The bass riff at the beginning of the recording isn’t on the studio-recorded session, which makes it all the cooler. This was another one of those songs that I heard live and wrote down in my notes to look up earlier. 

Artist: Beyoncé


Song: Yoncé

Now, this strays very far from the confines of the genres I’ve provided this far, but who would I be to talk about live-music recordings and not include Homecoming? Throughout the past four months, my sister and I would go on drives up and down River Road. Without fail, every time my sister got a hold of the queue, this was on it. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve blared this song at max volume with all the windows down in the middle of a global pandemic.