From a Michigan welder to a featured artist on the Yellowstone series, Myron Elkins has had quite the journey. And he’s just getting started.
Season 5 Episode 6 of Yellowstone, which aired on December 11, had one of the show’s deepest soundtracks to date. Among music from Ryan Bingham (Walker), Lainey Wilson (Abby), Cody Jinks, and Isaac Hoskins, it was a young up-and-comer’s voice that arguably grabbed the most attention.
That new talent is Myron Elkins.
Raised just north of Kalamazoo in Otsego, Michigan, the 21-year-old Elkins worked professionally as a welder following high school graduation with his sights set on a trade for his career until, unbeknownst to him, a relative signed him up for a local battle of the bands. He finished a runner-up, and his life began to change.
In the three years since, that experience has led to a massive transformation. He decided to pursue music full time and moved to Nashville, where he laid down his debut album, Factories, Farms & Amphetamines, with producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson) at Nashville’s storied RCA Studio A.
Two songs from the record — “Factories, Farms & Amphetamines” and “Wrong Side of the River” — made it into the episode. Both tunes were cut into the background of various scenes of Dutton cowboys at work wrangling and branding cattle.
Although the song’s focus is squarely on America’s rust belt and not the unblemished lands of Montana and the Yellowstone ranch, the two places share the blue-collar perspective running through “Factories, Farms & Amphetamines.” A Midwest manifesto of sorts, the semiautobiographical song merges America’s heartland and rust belt together with lyrics that point out the challenges of growing up and dealing with family and the consequences of one’s own choices.
“When I was trying to think about how to describe the Midwest, those three things [named in the title] are what first sprang to mind that sum up home,” Elkins says. “That song weaves between truth and reality to tell the story of a day in the life back home.”
“Wrong Side of the River,” looks at home from a completely different perspective. In it, Elkins sings about his gratitude for a supportive home despite the difficulties of his youth.
The timing of the placement of the two songs on Yellowstone couldn’t have been more fortuitous. The album released on January 13, just over a month after the episode aired. The episode led to a significant boost in Elkins’ streaming numbers both before and after the album came out. As of May 2, he’s sitting firmly at over 90,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
All this comes as Elkins is on the road in support of the album, traveling countrywide and opening for The White Buffalo and Whitey Morgan & The 78’s. He’s also performed with everyone from fellow Yellowstone-featured artists like Shane Smith & The Saints, Blackberry Smoke, and 49 Winchester to ZZ Top, Kaleo, Lucero, and Ward Davis.
All the touring and activity have kept him too busy and on the move to sit down and watch Yellowstone — yet.
“My parents are huge fans of the show, so I’ve had it on my radar for quite a while. But I haven’t had the chance to watch it myself because of how busy Ive been with music the last two years,” Elkins says. “It was an exciting moment getting to tell them that they’d soon be hearing one of my songs on it.”
The opportunity to get his music in front of Yellowstone’s millions of viewers — including nearly 8 million live on the night his music appeared — is not something that Elkins takes for granted.
“When I set out to make music, I figured anything Hollywood-, TV-, or mainstream-related would be out the window,” he says. “For Yellowstone to give us a nod like this has been an unexpected, but pleasant, surprise. I’m not even sure that they understand the power they have to help somebody out. Regardless, I’m very grateful they chose to use my music.”