One of the most unheralded acts to come out of the musically profound hollers of Eastern Kentucky in recent years has officially gotten the band back together.
Originally hailing from the same magical little southeast corner of the Bluegrass State that has produced Lorretta Lynn, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Tyler Childers, the authentically Appalachian jam band Sundy Best has already accomplished a lot while simultaneously flying under the radar to even some of the most serious music fans.
Sundy Best first rose to popularity back home thanks to their rowdy stage presence and even rowdier fanbase on the college bar scene and beyond.
Nicholas Jamerson and Kristofer Bentley rode that momentum to 3 studio projects and 2 more full-length live albums in just a 3-year stretch between 2013-2016.
They have even crossed one of country music’s holy grails off their bucket list already, performing on the biggest stage of all at the Grand Ole Opry twice back in 2014.
The high point of the band’s first run was the 2014 release of their third album “Salvation City,” which was rolled out with praise from the mainstream music industry despite the band’s more indie roots.
Back in the day, Jake Owentweeted his support for one of the band’s biggest songs “I Wanna Go Home” just as the Sundy Best brand first began to meaningfully build.
The burnout eventually reached a crescendo in March of 2018 when the band temporarily called it quits and announced they were splitting up to pursue other musical endeavors. The announcement came two years after Jamerson and Bentley had last released new music together.
The announcement broke the hearts of the relatively small but rabid fanbase the band built up while on the live show circuit. The duo had a special bond with their fans, something that could be felt in the air during live performances. Sundy Best even affectionately nicknamed their fanbase “kinfolk,” an old-fashioned colloquial term for blood relatives. It’s still a common slang term for extended family in Appalachia.
One of the group’s most entertaining songs “Swarpin'” is also based on another Appalachian slang word.
The meaning of that word isn’t quite as family-friendly as the word kinfolk though.
“So I’m filling up my cup and I hope that’s enough To get all this worry off of my mind With the swarpin’ and fightin’ Whiskey-drinking, up-all-night-ing With the Back Porch Pickers”
But to the delight of the kinfolk movement, Sundy Best broke the news that they would be reuniting for new music and live shows again at the end of last year.
Looking back, it’s amazing how the lyrics to one of their biggest songs “These Days” seems to have foretold the feelings of musical burnout that Jamerson and Bentley would later feel and the ensuing professional breakup that was still years away from coming to fruition.
However, the lyrics also seemed to somehow preemptively lay the groundwork for Sundy Best’s reunion ahead of time as well.
“These days I stick to myself Don’t need no one that I can’t help Just taking my time, walking on by When the time is right I’ll change my mind Change my mind, oh yeah.”
Though known best for their genuinely rockin’ rural sound and image, wild live shows, and even wilder lyrical stories, Sundy Best also most certainly knows how to hit music fans in the soft spot with upbeat poignant love songs like “Until I Met You.”
The song tells one of country music’s oldest stories in a unique way that could warm even an outlaw country fan’s heart. Fast-moving wild boy struggling to come of age meets a girl way out of his league who already has her sh*t together. Good girl helps comparatively “bad” boy get back on the right path. They live happily ever after.
To pull on people’s heartstrings even harder, the original music video was even debuted on Valentine’s Day back in 2014.
“Well you held me down And you held my hand Til I didn’t want let go So I settled down Til you came around.”
The duo’s multilayered approach to songwriting is a major part of what makes their music so special. Their lyrics tell powerful and relatable stories with remarkably few words.
Songs like “Kentucky Women” and “It’s So Good” both exhibit meaningfully heartfelt anecdotes that focus on the lighter and more fun side of romance drama as opposed to the sad heartbroken songs that country music is famous for.
“There’s a lady to my left in an old sundress. She’s lickin’ her lips and startin’ to sweat. She’s got her drink up against her chest. Yeah I think I’m in love, I must confess.”
Although the band’s full collection of music does still contain plenty of traditional, old school, sad, and slow-sounding country songs too if that’s what you’re into.
Other songs like “Shotgun Lady” and “Wild Ones” address emotionally deep struggles that many people go through while growing up and finding themselves, but in a charmingly optimistic and upbeat type of way.
“My hands don’t shake They never waver I wake and bake A soothin’ savior
You say see ya later Mister alligator I won’t be here in the morning You leveled with devils here’s your bronze medal You can’t say I didn’t warn ya
Wherever I am Will be where you are.”
Despite such an impressive musical resume, Sundy Best first started to take off just a few short years before the digital music scene really started booming thanks to streaming services on every iPhone and websites like Whiskey Riff that put a magnifying glass on country artists swimming against the current and playing music against the grain.
The good news is that Sundy Best is officially back together though, with plans of making better music and putting on better shows than ever before.
Jamerson and Bentley spent the first few months of their reunion writing new songs and grinding them out in the studio, but few details are known beyond the fact that new original songs are for sure on the way from Sundy Best.
“A whole 5 days in the studio this week = a lot to share.”
Sundy Best is also gearing up for their first official run of live shows together in years, kicking things off this weekend back home in Eastern Kentucky with the first stretch of their Kinfolk Reunion Tour.
If Sundy Best is able to capture the same musical spirit and rapidly rising momentum they already built for their brand once before, then even bigger things could be in store for one of Kentucky’s most underrated bands who is just now starting to explore a new frontier in the digital age of the music industry.
The future is bright for these two Southern Boys from the Bluegrass State. While it remains to be seen just how far Sundy Best will go this time around, one thing you can count on for sure is that the kinfolk are going to drink some damn alcohol to celebrate this old band’s new beginning… and they ain’t going home to mama until they drank all of their moonshine.
“Well, the neighbors like wine, we like beer Need a few more hicks like us ’round here.”