Sturgill Simpson Reveals Band Will ‘Definitely Tour With the Bluegrass’

by Charles Craighill

Despite not having plans to tour in 2021 as of now, country Americana star Sturgill Simpson revealed that he will tour with his bluegrass outfit. When his last tour prematurely ended due to the pandemic, he played songs from his progressive rock album, Sound and Fury. Since then, he released a bluegrass album, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1. Fans have been curious as to which album he will pick up when he starts touring again.

“I’ll go play whatever gig wants me to come and play. We’ll definitely tour with the bluegrass,” Sturgill said in a rare interview with BBC Scotland. “This isn’t going to be the last time I pick up an electric guitar, I can promise you that. Or just do both, I don’t know. That would be a fun tour to just go out for four hours every night and do a little bit of both and have two bands. That sounds pretty amazing to me.”

Sturgill Simpson Progression of Sound

The progression of Sturgill Simpson’s music has been a rather interesting one. His first album, High Top Mountain felt like a standard folk-country album. While his lyrics definitely have a nuanced take on standard country-isms, the sound and chord progression fit the bill. Unfortunately, Simpson felt this semi-generic sound trapped him in the country music box.

In his next two albums, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson began to push the boundaries of the “country music” he made. Each album became more progressive and rock-centric in turn. The album as a whole had far more experimental sounds to it, incorporating more distortion effects and reverberation. The lyrics continued to explore deeper ideas than the stereotypical ‘drinking beer, driving trucks’ narrative. In fact, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth was written completely around the birth of his son.

His fourth studio album, Sound and Fury, is a full-on rock and roll album. No part of the album sounds anything like the High Top Mountain that kickstarted his career. In fact, ever since his first album, Sturgill Simpson has denounced his association with his former label. He has expressed his frustration with the entire country music industry, for that matter.

Finally, on October 16 of this year, Sturgill Simpson released the most recent project that brings him back to his roots. Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 revisits many songs over the course of his early career and presents them in a bluegrass form. It also includes totally new songs in a bluegrass form. In a way, it brings Simpson’s career full circle. With that said, it is safe to assume his career is far from over, so it will be interesting to see what form his music takes next.

Cuttin’ Grass at the Butcher Shop Studios

Sturgill Simpson recorded two of his five studio albums at Butcher Shop Studios, a Nashville studio that used to be co-owned by songwriting legend, John Prine. Prine and Simpson grew to have a very close relationship over the years before Prine’s death. They performed at the GRAMMY Pro Up Close and Personal concert, and Prine even left Simpson his Porsche sportscar in his will.

Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers Relationship

Before their tour was cut short, Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson toured on the same ticket. Childers would open up and Simpson would take the second set. The two artists are fairly close and think similarly musically. Interestingly, both Simpson and Childers released surprise albums this fall that took a bluegrass turn. Tyler Childers released Long Violent History just a month before Sturgill Simpson’s Cuttin’ Grass. Childers’ album struck up some controversy based on the social context of the album, but he explained his stance to his fans in a video message.

Given the closeness of the musicians and the timing of their releases, could we see another Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers tour? Would it be a bluegrass tour or the same sound they originally had? When can we buy tickets? All of these questions hang on the mind of Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers fans, but according to Simpson, it will have to wait.

“Personally I would have a hard time booking a venue and walking out on stage and singing if I thought there was even a remote chance I might kill somebody. So I’m just letting time and people a lot smarter than me come out with ways to possibly make that happen one day… I think it will happen one day. This too shall pass… When we are able to go back, I’ll probably go on tour for about three or four years straight, because I’ll be so ready to play music. I think it would be a beautiful thing.”