Cumberland Thunder singer-musician going solo to lead Danville benefit concert
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
Joshua Tomlin believes you can go home again and he’s put together what promises to be a great night of worship and praise to do so.
Tomlin, known to Kentucky gospel music fans as a vocalist and guitarist for Cumberland Thunder, will be going solo on Saturday, May 27 at Danville’s First Church of God. The concert, which will feature Tim Readnour as the opening artist, begins at 6 p.m.
Performing a solo concert is not new to Tomlin, but he will be plowing some new musical ground with the concert. “I have performed a small handful of solo dates, but it has been several years ago, and nothing of this magnitude,” he said in an email. “I will be singing, playing guitar and playing some piano. There is a full live band (including some backup singers) that I have put together specifically for this night, and we’ve been in rehearsal since February.”
Tomlin says the solo concert is to be the foundation of “an alternative creative outlet, and share some things that are close to my heart.”
At the forefront of those things is Imparting Wisdom Christian Academy, a Christian school founded by his parents in Hustonville, just down the road from Danville. Tomlin says that while the concert is free, “we’ll be receiving a love offering to go towards scholarships and school supplies so that local children can have the opportunity of Christian education.”
And with the school being close to Tomlin’s hometown, the fit for the concert was natural.
“My first requirement was that I find a venue in Danville, Ky.,” Tomln explains. “It’s my hometown, and though I moved away several years ago, I wanted to do this concert as a way of giving back and saying thank you to the people that encouraged me on the way up. I’ve had the opportunity to perform at Danville First Church of God for a few different events, and their facility is well-suited to an event of this nature. There is plenty of parking, plenty of seating, and a gorgeous sanctuary.”
Tomlin says he plans to draw heavily on his musical roots, both in content and style, for his Danville concert. “There will be a good combination of original material and covers,” he says. ‘I’ll be staging several original songs that I have never played in front of a live audience before, so I am excited to finally get to share those with the world!
“Music was always around the house and easily accessible for me, so I quickly acquired a rather eclectic taste. Fans of the Imperials, Hinsons or even Petra (among others) will be delighted to hear some familiar material.”
As a member of Cumberland Thunder, Tomlin has been an integral part of a group known for high-octane concerts that do not fit the Southern Gospel mold. The music is progressive and the energy free-flowing. Tomlin says that is by design and fans should expect some of the same in his solo work.
“Cumberland Thunder is not traditional in the sense that we don’t necessarily fit with the industry’s current trends, but to us, that’s what true gospel music has been about,” Tomlin says. “From the days of Jake Hess standing on top of the piano while the Statesmen belted out spirituals, to Kenny Hinson shouting out stadium rock-esque call and responses, the best of our industry has always proved to be those who push boundaries. In that sense, we like to think that we are holding the most true to the essence of what gospel music has alwaybeen about. With that in mine, this solo venture will contain a good mix of old and new, with everying in between.
“And as always, I don’t know any other way to do it but energetically!”
Tomlin expects his opening act to approach his set in the same way. Readnour is “my wife’s uncle, and one of the most talented songwriters I know,” he says. “He writes songs that are gritty, raw and real. They deal with the subjects of life that people are really dealing with, and Tim doesn’t mince words.”
And with a night of music designed to uplift Christ while challenging the audience, Tomlin sees his journey into a solo event as another avenue of ministry.
“Ministry is why I do what I do,” he says. “One major reflection of that is the lyric choices I make. I love a catchy tune and I’m always looking for that new chord progression that will hit just right, but if the lyrics aren’t biblically sound or ‘meaty’ as I like to call it, it’s not a good song. I’ve often said that people appreciate what’s real and the world can spot a fake a mile away.
“Christian music serves a three-fold purpose. First, to bring glory to God. Second to encourage the Christian. Lastly to bring the gospel message to the lost. Some songs focus on one of those points, some can do all three. I think aloof the above are valid and all of them working together on a unified front will bring about real change in people’s lives and ultimately the world around us.
“That’s why I do what I do.”
Cumberland Thunder to return to touring this summer
Joshua Tomlin’s solo venture does not signal an end to his work with Cumberland Thunder. Far from it, he says.
“Cumberland Thunder is still going strong and remains my number one musical priority. At the end of 2022, we committed to take the first half of 2023 off the road for a number of reasons. I recently became pastor at Flat Lick Baptist Church in Somerset, Ky., other members have recently welcomed or will soon welcome children, and it seemed like the right time to take some time off.
“However, we are in the process of working on new music as well as preparing for a busy summer and fall tour which will kick off in June.”
What: Joshua Tomlin and Tim Readnour
When: Saturday, May 27, 2023, 6 p.m.
Where: Danville First Church of God, 3220 Harrodsburg Road, Danville, Ky.
Cost: The concert is free but a love offering will be received.