Roll Me Away
  • Roll Me Away

No matter what a tribute album intends, it’s only as good as those that contribute. That’s true of the recent salute to Bob Seger titled Silver Bullet Bluegrass, and one of its participants in particular, Bill Taylor.

Taylor, best known for his work with the band The Appalachian Heatherns, a group based in the hills of Kentucky’s coal country, certainly stands out, courtesy of his rollicking remake of the Seger classic, “Roll Me Away,” which also happens to be the album’s third single. It was Shawn Brock, a former member of The Appalachian Heatherns, who introduced Bill to Randall Deaton, the head of the newly revived Lonesome Day Records. Shawn and Bill had previously worked together on The Appalachian Heatherns’ new EP titled The Cumberland Avenue Sessions.

“When Shawn heard that Randall was looking for a voice to sing ‘Roll Me Away,’ he recommended me,” Bill recalls. “A month or two later, after a few texts had been passed back and forth, I found myself in beautiful Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where some of my childhood heroes had recorded — among them, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the great Bob Seger himself. I had the honor of recording in the exact studio where one of my all-time favorite groups, The SteelDrivers, recorded during their Muscle Shoals sessions.”

Not surprisingly then, Bill’s enthusiasm for this particular project can hardly be contained. “To say I was excited to work with Randall and producer Jimmy Nutt would be an understatement,” he continues. “I didn’t have to wonder if this single was going to be something special, because I already knew I was in good hands. On the other hand, I didn’t realize just how damn good it would actually be.”

Of course, the track’s success is also owed to the power and passion Bill puts into the performance. It’s a skillset that evolved from his ongoing efforts with The Appalachian Heatherns and the fact they’ve attracted a growing legion of fans and followers. Theirs is a journey that reflects the unique culture and lingering lessons spawned from the rural realms of the Southeast.

To date, Bill and the band have released three singles — “Strength,” “Electric Sunshine” and “Freckles and Flowers,” all in addition to the aforementioned six-song EP, The Cumberland Avenue Sessions, which was released last March.

Bill himself hails from a small Appalachian Mountain town called Cold Iron, Kentucky, the place he was raised until the age of 13. Although he says he had a normal childhood, the family moved around frequently due to his dad’s job as a roofing team leader. “He always took pride in keeping food on the table,” Bill recalls. “We finally decided to settle in Middlesboro, Kentucky and I’ve never left,” Bill continues. “I got my initial introduction to music in the various Pentecostal churches, which is where my dad doubled as an evangelist. I credit my musical ability to my upbringing in these churches, which, in turn, offered the opportunity to become

familiar with drums, bass, guitars, piano, and even washboard at times. That’s what definitely got me into a musical groove.”

He was further enticed after he and his wife Natasha happened to catch a Flyleaf concert in Louisville. “It was the first real show I had been to, and it transformed my life completely,” he recalls. “I couldn’t stop talking about the band’s smooth transitions and how gracefully Lacey, the lead singer, moved across the stage while hitting the notes. It was bone-chilling, and it made me wonder if that was something that I could possibly try. I found the energy that was coming back from the crowd quite addicting.”

Nevertheless, Bill’s dreams were put on hold while he and his wife raised their young family. Still, he held on to the idea of becoming a singer, and when he witnessed his dad making his own move into music while writing original songs, he was compelled to pursue those possibilities.

In 2019, he and his father formed a band called Taylormade. “We mainly did old and new honky-tonk covers, along with one or two of dad’s originals,” Bill relates. “I knew I didn’t want to do covers forever, but I also knew that this was a particularly precious time, because I was getting in front of folks and honing my craft.” That chapter came to a close in 2021 when the band disbanded, but it eventually opened some new doors that would prove to be equally advantageous. “By September 2022, I hadn’t been in front of a mic in about six months because I had been busy pursuing a day job,” he recalls. “However, I was eager to get something new started. I decided to go to a Tyler Childers show and it was there that I met up with an old friend named JJ Givens. We decided to share some music, and then, on our first day of practice, I was walking up to JJ’s porch when I heard Derek Emery, my future guitar picker, playing ‘Electric Sunshine.’ I had known Derek for a long time because we went to high school together, but just like so many similar situations, he had his friends and I had mine. Still, none of that mattered when I was listening to that song pouring out from that porch.” That became the genesis of The Appalachian Heatherns. “I argued for a minute that we should label it ‘Heathens,’ because that’s the correct way to spell it. But Derek came back at

me and said ‘Hell, Bill, when mamaw would come at us with a switch because we were getting in trouble, she’d holler ‘You bunch of heatherns!’ So, the name stuck. Over the past two years, we have been through a few members, but as of now, the band consists of Derek, Joe Cox, and me. We’ve been doing shows all across Kentucky while pushing our parameters into Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia and opening for folks like Wyatt Flores, Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle, Drayton Farley, and Kashus Culpepper. We’ve also played several festivals with some heavy hitters, including the Red Clay Strays, Taylor Hunnicutt, Logan Halstead, John R. Miller, Jake Kohn and Nolan Taylor.

In the meantime, Bill couldn’t be prouder on his participation on Silver Bullet Bluegrass.

“I’m so pleased the way the track ‘Roll Me Away’ came out,” he says in hindsight. “But more than that, I’m so honored to have taken part in the process. Mr. Seger, I hope I did you proud!”
  • Members:
  • Sounds Like:
    Bluegrass / Bob Seger / Classic Rock
  • Influences:
    Bluegrass and Americana
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    07/16/24 20:06:19

"Radio Creds" are votes awarded to artists by radio programmers who have downloaded their music and have been impressed with the artist's professionalism and the audience's response to the new music. Creds help artists advance through the AirPlay Direct community.

Only radio accounts may add a Radio Cred. One week after the track has been downloaded the radio account member will receive an email requesting a Cred for each artist they've downloaded.