J.R. Carroll and Drayton Farley at Hi-Fi Indy

Stop me if you have heard this one before, but I recently caught some live music.

One of my goals for 2022 was to get back in the habit of catching live shows more frequently. I once hit 20 national act shows in a year, which is not easy considering where I live, which is basically two hours from any live music. Indianapolis is a three-hour drive, for this one specifically. It was my first time hitting Hi-Fi, which has a lot of acts come through I would love to see.

So, on Dec. 17, Sarah and I were able to catch two acts for the first time for us–J.R. Carroll and Drayton Farley. I’ve written about both over the last couple of years, but had not seen either live yet. Or at least not solo. I’ve seen JR twice playing the keys for Zach Bryan. Problem…solved.

But first, food.

We pre-gamed at St. Joseph Brewery in Indy. Sarah is a catholic girl who attended a St. Joe grade school, so this seemed like a no-brainer. Yes, it is in an old church. It did not disappoint. If Jesus had turned that water into an IPA…

On to the show. JR opened, and yes, he did mockingly admit he is the guy from that Zach Bryan band. He jokes, but it was the youtube clips of Codeine Pills and A Boy Like You that I discovered him. I included his 2020 EP Long Story Short in my top 10 for the year. His Raging in The Dark EP release this year was my favorite EP of the year with a per-song rating that would have put it at the top of my album list if it was a full release. So, yeah, I’m a fan.

And Sarah has become one too, especially after the show, even though he didn’t play Girl From A Song, the only she wanted the most. It’s a tradition for me at this point. I tried to warn her.

I drag Sarah to a lot of shows she is only halfway familiar with the artists. She tags along to placate me mostly. She is a great adventure buddy, but often doesn’t love the concerts. She did enjoy both Drayton and JR. I think it helps when the music she doesn’t know every word to is a solo acoustic show. Even if you don’t know the lyrics, they are not hard to follow in a sparse sound. So that both JR and Drayton both put on “a man and a guitar” shows helps in her regard.

As for Drayton, he burst onto my scene in 2020 with the American Dream single, and then 2021’s A Hard Up Life album was number two on my list for the year, behind only Cole Chaney.

So, yeah a fan here too.

Both were great vocally. The man and a guitar shows can be hard to command a crowd, and they both did, with a lot of sing-along on the way. Both have entered my “will drive

Here is a montage of JR clips I got during the show.


When Drayton’s album came out last year, I texted a friend and fellow Isbell fan that he had a couple Isbell-esque songs, so the fact the two closed out the night with an Isbell cover was just perfect. It was also the only song I recorded in entirety. I try not to do that too often.

And oh yeah, JR and Drayton have both now had the pleasure. And yes, yes I did wear my Wu-Tang christmas sweater. Get on my level, people.

Tl;dr: We don’t suck at this. Remember kids, always go to the show.


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