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The WDVX Blue Plate Special – 6/3 – Josh Merritt / Kirby Lyle

June 3 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Taken from his forthcoming semi-autobiographical country concept / breakup record, 206, Josh Merritt‘s new single “Give It to Me” is an upbeat country rocker about seeing the first flashes of red flags in a new relationship that is fast turning into trouble. In the song, you can hear Merritt plead in vain with his significant other to lose the passive aggressive tendencies and just be honest, straightforward and unguarded.

“I wrote ‘Give It to Me’ in the middle of a previous relationship,” he says. “It deals with that toxic relationship, the healing on the other side of it, and the growth in between. Really, I made a record about a page out of my diary. It’s not meant to be vindictive toward the other person; I’m just telling a story about how I felt in those moments, and hoping somebody can relate—I think that’s really the big job of being a songwriter.”

“Give It to Me”—and the rest of 206—was co-produced, engineered and mixed by Zach Kasik, whose credits include Old Crow Medicine Show and Jamey Johnson’s platinum-selling That Lonesome Song. “Zach really brings a lot of passion to his work,” Merritt says. “When he’is feeling the songs and is really into a project, you could be in the studio for 18 hours, battery on zero—suddenly something cool happens and he’s jumping up and down in his seat right along with you. Working in Nashville, where there’s tons of music being recorded every day, and everybody’s seen and done it all, it’s a rare thing to find a producer who cares as much as Zach.”

The new single features Merritt on acoustic guitar and vocals, Nashville session wizard Jack Ruch on lead guitar, Chris Hatfield of Music City Dueling Pianos on organ, and Merrit’s trusted rhythm section of Sterling Miller Chris Lee on bass and drums, respectively, both of whom hail from Merritt’s hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky.

The music video for “Give It To Me” has its roots in a trip Merritt took to the infamous Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado, a landmark made famous in Kubrick’s classic film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. “I visited the Stanley a few months ago, and watched The Shining for the first time,” Merritt says. “I was just blown away by it and became obsessed. I started thinking about ‘Give It to Me’ and how it would be cool to twist the plot of the movie, where this guy is slowly going mad from isolation. I had the idea to role switch and have the female be the lead, and to have the couple’s relationship driving things. Once we started filming the video, it of course took on a life of its own, and went in a direction that more closely relates to the story of the song, but the influence of The Shining still comes through.”

The three-digit title of Merritt’s new album has a special, almost mystical meaning for him, a symbolism that delves deep into numerology. “As long as she could remember, 206 was a number my ex would see everywhere,” Merritt explains. “From the beginning, on some of our first dates, she’d point it out on the receipt or wherever else it would pop up. As our relationship went on, it just became a normal thing. The number 206 seemed to follow her everywhere.”

Years later, after the relationship had ended, Merritt was on tour and met a woman who did palm readings. She asked if there were any numbers that followed him or seemed significant in his life. When he mentioned 206, it caught his new psychic friend’s attention. “She told me that 206 means you’re in a moment of time where you need to realize there’s room for learning and growth,” Merritt says. “Looking back, it’s interesting because that whole relationship on my end and my partner’s end was about growth—I learned a lot from it as I’m sure she did too. And all of the songs I’d been working on leading up to the new album, they all stemmed from that relationship. The best way I could think to sum up the whole story of that chapter in my life and this set of songs was the number 206.”

A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Josh Merritt is an artist steeped in Heartland culture. In 2020, he released his debut studio album, Reynolds Station, a stirring collection of autobiographical songs that recount his tumultuous childhood in the clutches of rural America’s amphetamine epidemic. The album garnered praise from outlets such as American Songwriter, Country Rebel, The Bluegrass Situation, Americana UK & more, as Merritt opened shows for everyone from Hank Williams Jr and Charlie Daniels to Corey Smith and Colt Ford.

In between releasing Reynolds Station and recording 206, Merritt has used the time to hone his craft in front of live audiences. “We’ve been keeping the wheels hot, that’s for sure,” Merritt says. “It’s been three years of running up and down the road. We’ve been all over the Southeast and Midwest, I’ve played Chicago a whole lot, and I also did an acoustic tour all through Texas. I play about four shows a week every week. It’s been pretty much nonstop.”

Reflecting on the period in his life that inspired 206, while looking ahead to the future, Merritt is seeing life in a positive light. “Everything I wrote about in this new record is behind me, it’s in the past,” he says. “I’m a different person now, and I’m sure my ex is a different person now, too. All of this happened three or four years ago. I’m engaged to someone else now and living a very happy life. It’s been the best year of my life, so far as family and love and all that goes. From where I’m at, 206 feels less like digging up bones and more like the story of an important step along the path to the person and place I am now.”

Kirby Lyle is a Nashville based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. He infuses musical passions with a blend of acoustic folk, alternative, and Americana. His work is rich in harmony, original melodies, and lyrics that are both poetic and relevant.

His solo debut EP, Down in Nashville- Songs from the Rounds, is a heartfelt acoustic album that traverses themes of love, joy, hope, addiction and mental health. This collection showcases Lyle’s mastery over solo guitar, banjo, and ukulele complimented by the lush vocal harmonies familiar to anyone who has seen him perform at Nashville’s esteemed songwriters’ rounds .

Having embraced sobriety since 2021, Lyle credits music with not only saving his life, but for perpetual inspiration and healing along his journey. His art evokes the genres of 60s folk, 70s rock, 80s metal, 90s pop, and he is also a classically trained cellist, operatic tenor and show choir enthusiast.

Lyle’s career has spanned over thirty years. His music has been heard on the radio and MTV. He’s performed around the country and in hallowed spaces like Carnegie Hall in NYC and in Europe- the Cathedral of Notre Dame. He was a mainstay in the Chicago folk scene for over a decade, and even gained some notoriety in midwestern talent searches in the 90s…


June 3
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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301 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902 United States
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