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Judah & the Lion brings some uptown folk to Mat Kearney tour

Judah & the Lion opened alongside Parachute for the final show of Mat Kearney’s Just Kids Tour at the Ryman Auditorium on Saturday night.

“Feels good to be home,” said Judah Akers, the lead singer of the band.

Although the band sang they “couldn’t find their way back home” in its opening song “Kickin’ Da Leaves,” Judah & the Lion had found its way back home to Nashville where the band began in 2011.

Belmont alumni Akers, Nate Zuercher and Brian MacDonald put on a high-energy folk performance sprinkled with throwback hip-hop throughout the night.

Judah & the Lion had a few surprises for the audience in its opening act including a cohesively choreographed number to “We Built this City.” Also, MacDonald displayed his rap skills and Akers showed off his range in their version of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” intertwined in their song “Twenty-Somethings.” This mingling of folk and pop was a crowd favorite and had many dancing along.

But the band’s hip-hop flair and accordion rock was just the beginning as it entered into its opening set.

In tribute of the Ryman’s history and Akers’s grandmother coming to the Ryman to hear gospel choirs sing years ago, the band performed the soulful “A Hundred Miles.”

Judah & the Lion also filled the Ryman with the voices of the audience in their stirring spiritual “Water.”

Kearney called Judah & the Lion back on stage and gave Belmont a shoutout. Kearney and Judah & the Lion proceeded to pay homage to “Uptown Funk,” in a folk style, where Akers quickly replaced “fill my cup, put some liquor in it,” with “put some juice in it,” keeping with Belmont policies long after graduation.

After the band’s appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman and opportunity to open for Kearney, Akers said he was honored to play in the Ryman to wrap up the tour.

Akers left the audience with these parting words–“Eat more chocolate, dance without caring and listen to more Judah & the Lion.”

To listen to Judah & the Lion visit or the group’s Facebook page.

Photo: Elizabeth Weisenfelder

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