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Katilin Butts, Hollier and Georgia Thunderbolts Liven Up Finally Friday

Mackenzie Ryan
Oklahoma country artist Kaitlin Butts

The reason those comedic hosts always shout like crazy people when they say “LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!!” on the famous NBC show. That’s because there’s nothing like the energy of a live broadcast, with an audience and artists all together in a special space. All those pieces are in place for a noon start on April 15 when we return to the Wash at Eastside Bowl for Finally Friday in person. We’ll hear country from Katilin Butts, hearty roots rock from Nashville’s Hollier and southern rock from the Georgia Thunderbolts.

In country music there’s really no other way to develop your own voice and persona than to inhabit and express your influences, and for Kaitlin Butts, she owns the fact that it started with Miranda Lambert, the Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift. She told the Troubadour Podcast that “I looked at them and thought I can do that. That feels like me.” Those artists took her down historic rabbit holes, and before she knew it she was studying vocal performance at college in Oklahoma City. The Red Dirt scene took her in enthusiastically before she turned 20, and now she’s one of the young artists to know in the new Texlahoma frontier. She writes with verve and her voice is as crisp as a cold apple. If you want to fall in love with her, check out the video of her song “How Lucky Am I,” documenting herself falling in love with (and marrying) Flatland Cavalry frontman Cleto Cordero. More recent is the mournful “Blood” about the dark side of family ties. The latter is part of her new album What Else Can She Do, which comes out on performance day.

You’ll need to channel your inner Francophone to be proper saying the name of Louisiana-reared songwriter Hollier (oh-lee-ay) and his home town of Ville Platte. And while he grew up on a crawfish farm around a family band that played Cajun and zydeco music, those influences on the music he’s making as a roots rocker today are subtle at best. John Hollier grew up around music at home, at church and at honky tonks. Then after a couple of years at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge he transferred to Belmont University and he’s been an artist in residence in Nashville ever since. But most of that time has seen him playing guitar for others, chiefly country artists on tour. Once he got focused on being the writer and the artist, he connected with producer Eric Masse whose Grammy nominated success with Miranda Lambert suggests a good match with an artist who dips from the creeks of country, pop and rock and roll. Hollier’s been releasing singles since 2019, including the punchy road rocker “Jeff Buckley’s Ghost,” a paean to the touring life. A debut album is being prepped for later this year.

The Georgia Satellites have a darn cool name, particularly for an astronomy nerd like myself, but The Georgia Thunderbolts is a name with even more power and flash, and that’s what they’re said to deliver. So brace for volume in the final set of the day. This quintet, established in Rome, GA in 2015, stirs up lifelong loves of Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ozzy Osboune and parlayed that into runs opening for the Kentucky Headhunters and Blackberry Smoke. Wide Open Country picked the band as one of eight favorite moments from AmericanaFest 2021, calling them “beacons in a world that doesn't seem to know that it needs rock stars.” They landed on Mascot Records, where they released a debut in EP in 2020 and the album Can We Get A Witness in late 2021.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org