Sturgill Simpson Surprises Again With “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2. (Cowboy Arms Sessions)” Release

If you were thinking to yourself “Self, I sure do loveSturgill Simpson’s “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1. The Butcher Shoppe Sessions” but wouldn’t it be great if he did another one in a few weeks?”

Well you greedy bastard you got your wish. News trickled in the socials last night that Sturgill had a new album out. Given his penchant for tomfoolery I’m hesitant to bite on early Sturgill news. But just as he did with the first Volume, Volume. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions) had populated across streaming platforms as a surprise, more personal release.

Simpson said in a statement about the project: “On Volume 2, we recorded everything I was too afraid to do on Volume 1. It’s hard to deny that this is a much more intimate offering. I was thinking about my kids, my grandfather, my wife.” Vol. 2 features a returning crew of celebrated bluegrass players who were also involved in Vol. 1, including mandolin player Sierra Hull, guitarist Tim O’Brien, and fiddler Stuart Duncan.

“Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2” gives us toe-tapping version of “You Can Have The Crown” that had previously retired from his live shows performing. There’s the inclusion of “Jesus Boogie” and “Oh Sarah” from his earlier band Sunday Valley. Simpson debuts two new cuts on the record: “Tennessee” and a “Cowboy” Jack Clement tribute album closer “Hobo Cartoon,” billed as a co-write with late country legend Merle Haggard. The album also interprets a half-dozen songs from Simpson’s 2016 record “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth.”

Again joining Sturgill on the release is the hot-shot bluegrass band, dubbed the “Hillbilly Avengers,”fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Tim O’Brien, mandolinist Sierra Hull, drummer Miles Miller, bassist Mike Bub and Scott Vestal and Mark Howard on banjo. David Ferguson produced the album.

Order “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2.” pre-release.

“Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2. (Cowboy Arms Sessions)” Track List:

1. Call To Arms
2. Brace for Impact (Live a Little)
3. Oh Sarah
4. Sea Stories (Sunday Valley cut)
5. Hero
6. Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)
7. Jesus Boogie (Sunday Valley cut)
8. Keep It Between The Lines
9. You Can Have The Crown
10. Tennessee
11. Some Days
12. Hobo Cartoon written with Merle Haggard)

Sturgill Simpson Announces Livestream From Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium


Sturgill Simpson announced a free livestream concert in conjunction with that will take place fro an audience-less Ryman Auditorium inNashville. The show will take place this Friday, June 5 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Simpson will be “playing with a host of friends and musicians” at the famed venue including fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Mike Bub, mandolinist Sierra Hull, banjo player Scott Vestal, guitarists Tim O’Brien and Mark Howard and drummer Miles Miller. While livestream will be free, viewers are asked to donate to one of three charities picked by Sturgill. Those charities are the Special Forces Foundation, The Equity Alliance and Musicares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Watch Sturgill Simpson’s Ryman Auditorium livestream benefit concert below.

Sturgill Simpson on the Joe Rogan Podcast – 6 Things We Learned

Sturgill Simpson and band took his latest “Sound and Fury” on the road by playing the storied
Troubadour club in Los Angeles and it sounded like a great show.

Simpson band must have gotten up at the break of dawn to it in on the always entertaining Joe Rogan Podcast. Heres some highlights.

– Sturgill had Justin along with his band. Justin is a military medic that lost his legs in combat. He relaid his heart-wrenching tale of war and drugs involved with his recovery. He was representing the Special Forces Foundation that helps Gold Star families.

– Simpson had two home invasions twice by the same burglar. The second break-in he had the invader lined in his rifle scope but let the guy escape out the back instead of shooting him in the back.

– Sturgill might sing about Waffle House but he used to work at iHop.

– There was a rightful mutual admiration of Patrick Swayze and the movie roadhouse.

– Sturgill recalls opening for Dwight Yoakam early in his career (“it felt like we had broken through”) at a show in McAllen, Texas. A post-show trip to a Mexican dance club. The club DJ introduces the guys as “Dwight Yoakam’s Band.” Then a fight broke out involving bottles of Grey Goose as weapons which hasted the band’s exit.

– They recount the incredible “Bluegrass Conspiracy” tale that involved the Kentucky politics all the way up the the Governor’s office. A Lexington, KY cop crashed his plane while carrying cocaine. He ejected out with the code strapped to him but still died. Then a bear ate the coke and died as well. The bear is stuffed and mounted on display in Lexington

Check the interview below:

Sturgill Simpson Announces New Album and Anime Tie-In

Sturgill Simpson (photo by Semi Song)
Sturgill Simpson (photo by Semi Song)

Few artists are less willing to rest on their laurels than Sturgill Simpson.

In his latest gutsy move, Sturgill Simpson announced last weekend at San Diego’s Comic-Con that his upcoming new album, “Sound & Fury,” will be paired with an anime film of the same title to be released simultaneously on Netflix. The anime
is written and directed by CG studio Kamikaze Douga founder Jumpei Mizusaki.

Simpson emerged as part of an outlaw country resurgence the release of his second LP, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” Much like the original outlaw country pioneers, Simpson was taking control of the trajectory of his career resulting in fans and media accolades as the mainstream country radio did what they always do and shied away from the risky weirdness of “Turtles All the Way Down.”

Simpson doubled-down on following his contrarian muse with 2016’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” a loosely assembled concept album with songs inspired by his time in the Navy. The album moved further from the jet-fueled honky-tonk that defined his early career and embraced his love of rock, soul, and psychedelia. ironically Simpsons’ least country album went on to win the 2018 Grammy for Best Country Album.

With this latest announcement, Simpson remains (place genre here) most interesting agent of disruption. He steadfastly refuses o play by Music City rules or typical music career rules in general.

We will all be able to hear and see the latest stop on this sailer’s (pirate’s?) journey when “Sound & Fury” is released in September.

Listen Up! Sturgill Simpson New Song ‘The Dead Don’t Die’

It’s been a long stretch waiting for new music from Sturgill Simpson. Well, folks, the wait is over.

For those concerned that Simpson might jettison his Country Gold classic country sound, take comfort in
“The Dead Don’t Die” a standalone single off the soundtrack from indy filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s upcoming zombie flick of the same name.

The sound is a melancholy sweetness that warms the heart and brings a tear to all lovers of barroom serenades.
Sure the subject matter is weird, but with Simpson’s smooth croon delivering the weirdness, I’m in!

“The Dead Don’t Die” opens this weekend.

Sturgill Simpson Trolls CMA Awards, But To What End?

In case you hadn’t heard roots rocker and reluctant savior of country music Sturgill Simpson used the occasion of the 51st Country Music Association Awards to convey a message to the people mingling outside Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on lower Broadway and fans looking in from his live Facebook stream.

What was the message and who was it aimed at?

As is currently de rigour let’s start with the most overtly political and divisive.

When a fan asked about Trump, Sturgill responded : “He’s a fascist fucking pig and I’m not afraid to say that. Anybody who’s still supporting that guy can’t be anything in my mind but an ignorant fucking bigot. So there it is. Anybody that’s surprised to hear me say that is going to unfollow me or stop listening to my record was probably not listening that closely anyway.”

To say the election of Donald Trump a year ago was galvanizing is like saying tropical storm Harvey was merely a spring shower. The resulting split in the Country seems to roughly falls into three camps. Those that voted for Trump and still support him no matter what he does (or tweets,) Republicans that didn’t vote for Trump but disgruntledly supports him for the sake of the party, even as recent state elections suggest, he is single-handedly dismantling it. Then there are those that rally under the hashtag #NotMyPresident. Given the following quote, I’m willing to say Simpson falls into the third faction.

The ‘F’ word gets thrown around a lot by the 3rd faction (or it’s more heated shortcut Hitler,) which of course does little to set the groundwork for opposing views. But Sturgill is a smart man and he knows full well that Trump is not a fascist. A hallmark of traditional Mussolini strain of facism most people know violence against opposing views, not tweeting snarky things but actual rounding up and beatings or murder, is part of the ideology. As far as I can tell by the footage Simpson was allowed to speak at length with no harm inflicted.

When asked about the kind of acceptance speech he might give if handed an award at the proceedings happening behind him Simpson remarked “Nobody needs a machine gun, coming from a guy who owns quite a few guns.” He continued: “Gay people should have the right to be happy and live their life any way they want to and get married if they want to without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck. Black people are probably tired of getting shot in the streets and being enslaved by the industrial prison complex. And hegemony and fascism is alive and well in Nashville, Tenn. Thank you very much.”

A generally non-controversial view for tolerant, thinking people of the 21st century, if rambling and broad one. Of course, as a gun owner Simpson knows he can’t legally buy an automatic machine gun anywhere in the United States and the ‘hegemony and fascism’ is this time aimed at his adopted city. This might refer to the Music Row system in general or the CMA’s decision to formally hamstring the media on topics they deemed sensitive in the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

As a free speech purist I get it. But it’s not surprising with other award shows and the NFL’s ratings plummeting as a response to overt political topics that the CMA would want to steer clear.

Winning the Best Country Album Grammy last year does afford Simpson a level of minor celebrity (and let’s be honest, if People magazine covers your actions, you’re a celebrity.) It also gives Simpson a certain level of professional cache. Many artists would be meticulously building their career on by growing mass appeal leading to earning potential. But if you’ve followed Simpson’s career over the years you know Simpson’s songs and his interviews show he speaks his mind no matter the professional risk.

This has allowed Simpson to evolve into a persona defined more by what he’s against rather than what he’s for. Much like our beloved genre Americana he bristles against, Simpson has nebulous borders. Is he a new-breed Outlaw come to save “real” Country music from the contemporary homogenized variety being engineered out of Music Row for, well, decades or something else?

Simpson makes it hard to pin him down and that’s what makes him an intriguing artist. It’s also what makes him. like most of us, a lousy authority on public policy.

Simpson set up on the street to voice his opinion as is his constitutional right to do. He knows, as a Navy veteran, what that right costs. His guitar case open with his Grammy inside (not sure what to take from that) he collected tips that he said he’d be donating to the ACLU, a fine organization that has fought for the rights of groups as diametrically opposed as the Black Panthers and the K.K.K. and , most recently defended an on-line magazine in suggesting that Taylor Swift is a covert White Supremacist.

Sturgill’s views declared map generally to other Americana and Americana-leaning artists willing to publicize their views in interviews, on stage and through social Media. ANd though I agree with many of the sentiments expressed (yes i did vote for Hillary) I’m always concerned about the echo chamber effect made so easy by social media. Though I’m on the record arguing against the accusations of bigotry against Americana, I am concerned about the lack of intellectual diversity within the comminity. the only kind of diversity that matters and moved us forward.

Americana Music Association Announces Second Round of 2017 Americanafest Showcases

AmericanaFest  Announces Second Round of of 2017 Americanafest Showcases
Photo: (L-R) Top Row: Yola Carter, Drive-By Truckers, Iron & Wine
Bottom Row: Lukas Nelson, The Secret Sisters, Amanda Shires

Following the already stellar first round line-up announcement the Americana Music Association turned the yearly roots music showcase greatness meter firmly to 11.

The second round list of almost 300 artists slated to perform at the 18th Annual Americanafest roots music festival & conference plumbs deeper into the depths of Americana’s excellence than any other shocase of it’s type. Aside from stalwarts like Buddy Miller you get the new tradiitionalist like Elizabeth Cook and Hayes Carll as well as exciting young guns like Jade Jackson and Sammy Brue. Then there are my personal favorites Boo Ray, Angaleena Presley, Doug Seegers, Quaker City Night Hawks, The Secret Sisters, The Texas Gentlemen and don’t miss live performance by Whiskey Shivers. It’s also cool to see legendary folkers Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam on the list for the first time.

Conspicuously missing from the full list isthe most popular representatives of the genre – Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, though Amanda Shires is on the list and Jason’s been known to show up as a guest.

With the list of the 84 performers announced can be found below, bringing the current line-up to 187 artists, which can be viewed here.

Resister for the full six-day festival here, or get festival showcase wristbands here.

AMERICANAFESTâ„  Conference Registrations (currently $299 for members/$399 for non-members) offer priority admission into all showcase venues, sanctioned parties and events, daytime educational panels, and can be purchased here. At this time, only Conference Registrants may purchase Honors & Awards show tickets. If you’re just interested in the nightly showcases, a festival wristband will be your most suitable option at the wallet-friendly price of $75. Available on their website, a festival wristband grants admission into all showcase venues as well as select sanctioned parties and special events.

Second Round of Artists Confirmed to Play AMERICANAFESTâ„ :
The Accidentals
Amanda Shires
Angaleena Presley
Becky Warren
Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer
Bonnie Whitmore and Her Band
Boo Ray
Boy Named Banjo
Buddy Miller
The Cactus Blossoms
Cary Morin
Charly Markwart
Cody Canada & The Departed
Colin Hay
Cory Branan
Cris Jacobs
Dalton Domino
Darling West
Darrin Bradbury
David Ramirez
The Dead South
Dean Owens
Doug Seegers
Drive-by Truckers
Dustbowl Revival
Elijah Ocean
Elizabeth Cook
Emily Barker
Flatland Cavalry
Great American Canyon Band
Hayes Carll
Humming House
Iron & Wine
J.P. Harris
Jade Jackson
Joan Osborne
John Hiatt & the Goners
Joshua Hedley
Kaitlin Butts
The Kernal
Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
The Last Bandoleros
Lee Roy Parnell
Lilly Hiatt
Lori McKenna
Lukas Nelson
Marc Broussard
Mark O’Connor featuring the O’Connor Band
Matthew Ryan
The Mavericks & Friends
Michigan Rattlers
Nicole Atkins
Noam Pikelny
Nora Jane Struthers
North Mississippi Allstars
Phoebe Hunt
Quaker City Night Hawks
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Rogue + Jaye
Sammy Brue
The Secret Sisters
Shannon McNally
The Steel Wheels
Suzanne Santo
The Texas Gentlemen
The Tillers
Timmy The Teeth
Tom Brosseau
Tommy Womack
Travis Linville
Twisted Pine
Whiskey Shivers
Whitney Rose
The Wild Reeds
Willie Nile
The Wood Brothers
Wood & Wire
Woody Pines
Yola Carter


A.J. Croce
Amelia White and The Blue Souvenirs
Amy Black
Belle Plaine
Big Star’s Third Live
Billy Strings
Blackfoot Gypsies
Blair Crimmins and The Hookers
Bonnie Bishop
Brigitte DeMeyer
Caitlyn Smith
Cale Tyson
Carson McHone
Carter Sampson
Cat Clyde
Cereus Bright
Charlie Mars
Christian Lopez
Colin Hay
Colter Wall
Danni Nicholls
Danny Burns
Darling West
Dave Alvin
David Mayfield Parade
David Myles
Don Gallardo
Early James & the Latest
Eddie Berman
Faustina Masigat
Front Country
Gill Landry
Grant-Lee Phillips
Harrow Fair
High Plains Jamboree
India Ramey
Jack Ingram
Jamie Kent
Jason Wilber
Jesse Dayton
Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival
Joana Serrat
Joey Kneiser
Jon Langford
Joseph Huber
K Phillips
Kaia Kater
Kamara Thomas
Korby Lenker
Kristina Murray
Lee Ann Womack & Friends
Leyla McCalla
Liz Cooper & The Stampede
Lucie Silvas
Mark Erelli
Mary Bragg
Max Gomez
Me And My Brother
Motel Radio
Muddy Ruckus
Natalie Hemby
Old Sea Brigade
Otis Gibbs
Rachel Baiman
Rayna Gellert with Kieran Kane
Reckless Kelly
Reuben Bidez
Robby Hecht
Robyn Hitchcock
Ryan Tanner
Sam Outlaw
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
Shane Nicholson
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer
Shelly Fairchild
Skyway Man
Taasha Coates
Tattletale Saints
Ted Russell Kamp
The Americans
The Lowest Pair
The Mulligan Brothers
The Steel Woods
The Stray Birds
Tony Joe White
Trout Steak Revival
Vikesh Kapoor
Webb Wilder
Wild Ponies
Will Hoge
Will Kimbrough
Zach Schmidt
Zephaniah O’Hora

Sturgill Simpson’s Unlikely Road to the Grammys

Sturgill Simpson - Club DaDa - Dallas, Tx - 11/15/14

My first impression of Sturgill Simpson was of a man that embodied a duality of seemingly contradictory attributes – carefree determination. It was September of 2011 and over a pitcher of beer Simpson and I discussed his custom made telecaster (by him), the wonders of Bill Monroe and his recent debut on the stage at the Pickathon festival in Oregon a few days before. We also talked about his mini-tour he was then undertaking, with his then band Sunday Valley and his dad helping out with the driving, making way toward their new home in Nashville.

“Nashville? Why would you go there?” I asked him, believing Simpson’s “Outlaw” throwback style that placed him among contemporaries like Whitey Morgan or a more genteel Hank Williams III, would not fit well within the Music Row ear confection machine.

I believed this in 2011 but no longer do. After many trips, meeting many brilliant musicians and seeing dozens of great shows in Nashville and experienced the music community thriving outside of Music Row. I’m assuming that Simpson was aware of that burgeoning scene and had a long plan to work within that community and follow his music wherever it led him.

This eventually led him to a gig at The Basement where artist manager Marc Dottore first heard him. That led to representation by media relations firm
Sacks & Co, and the RED Distribution team. All working on the little more than faith that the man they represented tied the past to the future with a biting snarl and unabashed twang.

By 2013 I had a feeling that a tipping point had occurred. His performances at the Americana Music Association conference, a Bluegrass Situation and Groove records BBQ (see a clip below) showcases are still vivid memories, were heavily attended by people that didn’t go to any of the other conference’s live showcases. Many showed up in Sturgill concert t-shirts they had snatched up at one of the multiple sold-out shows he had performed tirelessly throughout the year.

Several years before I had merely strolled up to Sturgill in a seedy bar to engage him. Now I was in a journalist que at the Nashville Marriott, waiting my turn to be shepherded upstairs to the empty dining area overlooking the bustling lobby of the hotel. Once there Sturgill was the same man I remembered. Relaxed smile, talking about classic country, the fickleness of the music business, the absurdity that country music needs a savior. The discussion was insightful and the hour went by fast and, unfortunately, the recording of the discussion is lost to the ages due to a technology glitch.

Then came the breakout second album ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ produced by Dave Cobb. The album had universally positive reviews and helped to put both men on the hot musical map.

Then came the Late Show with David Letterman, Conan (twice), Jimmy Fallon, the Grand Ole Opry and at Austin City Limits and Keith Urban wearing a Sturgill concert shirt on American Idol.

What ‘Metamodern Sounds…” began 2016’s ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ completed in spades. The album bowed in at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, eventually hitting No. 1 Folk and
Rock Albums charts.

Now Sturgill is a two-time Grammy nominee up for Best Country Album for his least country album and for the big prize, Album of the Year award.

This isn’t Sturgill’s first Grammy nomination. ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ was up for Best Americana Album against John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Nickel Creek and the winner Rosanne Cash.

Sturgill nomination for Album of the Year award isn’t the category’s first roots album. That distinction belongs to Ray Charles ‘Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music’ (where ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ cribbed its title) in 1963. If he wins Sturgill won’t be the first roots artist to win in that category. That would be Glen Campbell ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ in 1969.

But Sturgill’s nomination for Album of the Year is significant in that it shows a teenage Sturgill out there watching that dogged diligence and a guiding independent spirit can lead you to a place where you can not only play your music to pay your bills, but you could be placed in contention with Adele, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Drake for national attention.

Win or lose this can open doors.

Simpson’s path is one of sheer will and self-determination that surprisingly touched a nerve in music fans starving for something real.

I’m pulling for him.

2016 Grammy Awards Nominees : Sturgill Simpson , Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn – Margo Price Snubbed


Nominations for the 2016 Grammy Awards have wee announced with the usual fanfare and one big surprise. let’s get the big one out of the way first, Reluctant outlaw country revisionist Sturgill Simpson might very well be on his way to achieving ‘the biggest country star on this planet‘ status by joining the glitterati ranks shared with Beyoncé, Drake, Justin Bieber, and Adele as nominees for the Album of the Year. there hasn’t been this much attention on the Grammy nominee announcements since Chorney-gate. This would seem improbable except that so many extraordinary things have happened since Simpson’s psychedelic-roots-soul epic ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ that it’s hard not to believe that it’s not all part of some master plan.

If Sturgill wins I dare Kanye to climb the stage to contest the decision.

Then there was the nomination of Simpson’s least country album for Best Country Album. But I’ve given on trying to read the recording academy mind a long time ago.

Other surprising nominations include Bob Dylan’s ‘Fallen Angels’ for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Robbie Fulks’s ‘Upland Stories’ and Sierra Hull’s ‘Weighted Mind’ for Best Folk Album, and Loretta Lynn’s ‘Full Circle’ for Best County Album.

Lori McKenna is up for 4 Grammys including Tim McGraw’s ‘Humble And Kind’ for Best Country Song and Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album and for her latest solo Dave Cobb – produced effort ‘The Bird & The Rifle.’

The biggest snub was against the only other person to garner almost as much ink as Sturgill Simpson. Margo Price was criminally overlooked by the recording academy for her splendid debut ‘ Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.’
And no love was shown for multiple Grammy-winning ex-Civil War John Paul White for his excellent solo offering ‘Beulah.’

And no Wheeler Walker Jr for best comedy Album? C’mon now!

What are your thoughts on the Grammy noms this year? What did they miss? Let me in know the comments.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, on CBS.

See the full list of nominees at

Best Country Solo Performance:
Brandy Clark — “Love Can Go to Hell”
Miranda Lambert — “Vice”
Maren Morris — “My Church”
Carrie Underwood — “Church Bells”
Keith Urban — “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:
Andrea Bocelli — ‘Cinema’
Bob Dylan — ‘Fallen Angels’
Josh Groban — ‘Stages Live’
Willie Nelson — ‘Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin’
Barbra Streisand — ‘Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway’

Best Roots Gospel Album:
Gaither Vocal Band — ‘Better Together’
The Isaacs — ‘Nature’s Symphony In 432’
Joey+Rory — ‘Hymns’
Gordon Mote — ‘Hymns and Songs of Inspiration’
Various Artists — ‘God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson’

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King — “Different for Girls”
Brothers Osborne — “21 Summer”
Kenny Chesney & P!nk – “Setting The World On Fire”
Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton — “Jolene”
Chris Young With Cassadee Pope — “Think Of You”

Best Country Song: (awarded to songwriters)
Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban) — “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett) — “Die A Happy Man”
Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw) — “Humble and Kind”
busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris) — “My Church”
Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert) — “Vice”

Best Country Album:
Brandy Clark — ‘Big Day In A Small Town’
Loretta Lynn — ‘Full Circle’
Maren Morris — ‘Hero’
Sturgill Simpson — ‘A Sailor’s Guide To Earth’
Keith Urban — ‘Ripcord’

Best American Roots Performance:
The Avett Brothers — “Ain’t No Man”
Blind Boys Of Alabama — “Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time”
Rhiannon Giddens — “Factory Girl”
Sarah Jarosz — “House Of Mercy”
Lori McKenna — “Wreck You”

Best American Roots Song: (awarded to songwriters)
Robbie Fulks, songwriter (Robbie Fulks) — “Alabama At Night”
Jack White, songwriter (Jack White) — “City Lights”
Eric Adcock & Roddie Romero, songwriters (Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars) — “Gulfstream”
Vince Gill, songwriter (The Time Jumpers) — “Kid Sister”
Lori McKenna & Felix McTeigue, songwriters (Lori McKenna) — “Wreck You”

Best Americana Album:
The Avett Brothers — ‘True Sadness’
William Bell — ‘This Is Where I Live’
Kris Kristofferson — ‘The Cedar Creek Sessions’
Lori McKenna — ‘The Bird & The Rifle’
The Time Jumpers — ‘Kid Sister’

Best Bluegrass Album:
Blue Highway — ‘Original Traditional’
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver — Burden Bearer
Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands — ‘The Hazel Sessions’
Claire Lynch — ‘North And South’
O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor — ‘Coming Home’

Best Folk Album:
Judy Collins & Ari Hest — ‘Silver Skies Blue’
Robbie Fulks — ‘Upland Stories’
Rhiannon Giddens — ‘Factory Girl’
Sierra Hull — ‘Weighted Mind’
Sarah Jarosz — ‘Undercurrent’

Best Regional Roots Music Album:
Barry Jean Ancelet & Sam Broussard — ‘Broken Promised Land’
Northern Cree — ‘It’s A Cree Thing’
Kalani Pe’a — ‘E ‘Walea
Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars — ‘Gulfstream’
Various Artists — ‘I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax In The Evangeline Country’

Best Album Notes
The Complete Monument & Columbia Albums Collection – Mikal Gilmore, album notes writer (Kris Kristofferson)
Label: Legacy Recordings
The Knoxville Sessions, 1929-1930: Knox County Stomp – Ted Olson & Tony Russell, album notes writers (Various Artists)
Label: Bear Family Productions Ltd.
Ork Records: New York, New York
Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, album notes writers (Various Artists)
Label: The Numero Group
Sissle And Blake Sing Shuffle Along- Ken Bloom & Richard Carlin, album notes writers (Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle)
Label: Harbinger Records/The Musical Theater Project
Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism & The Phonograph, 1890-1900- Richard Martin, album notes writer (Various Artists)

Best Historical Album:
The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol.12 (Collector’s Edition)
Steve Berkowitz & Jeff Rosen, compilation producers; Mark Wilder, mastering engineer (Bob Dylan)
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Music Of Morocco From The Library Of Congress: Recorded By Paul Bowles, 1959
April G. Ledbetter, Steven Lance Ledbetter, Bill Nowlin & Philip D. Schuyler, compilation producers; Rick Fisher & Michael Graves, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
Label: Dust-To-Digital
Ork Records: New York, New York
Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, compilation producers; Jeff Lipton & Maria Rice, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
Label: The Numero Group
Vladimir Horowitz: The Unreleased Live Recordings 1966-1983
Bernard Horowitz, Andreas K. Meyer & Robert Russ, compilation producers; Andreas K. Meyer & Jeanne Montalvo, mastering engineers (Vladimir Horowitz)
Label: Sony Classical
Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism & The Phonograph, 1890-1900
Michael Devecka, Meagan Hennessey & Richard Martin, compilation producers; Michael Devecka, David Giovannoni, Michael Khanchalian & Richard Martin, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
Label: Archeophone Records

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Are You Serious
Tchad Blake & David Boucher, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer (Andrew Bird)
Label: Loma Vista Recordings
David Bowie, Tom Elmhirst, Kevin Killen & Tony Visconti, engineers; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer (David Bowie)
Label: ISO/Columbia Records
Dig In Deep
Ryan Freeland, engineer; Kim Rosen, mastering engineer (Bonnie Raitt)
Label: Redwing Records
Hit N Run Phase Two
Booker T., Dylan Dresdow, Chris James, Prince & Justin Stanley, engineers; Dylan Dresdow, mastering engineer (Prince)
Label: NPG Records
Shani Gandhi & Gary Paczosa, engineers; Paul Blakemore, mastering engineer (Sarah Jarosz)
Label: Sugar Hill Records

Sturgill Simpson Is Right, and Rightous


Sturgill Simpson is not known for pulling punches. Though he’s been absent or toned down on social media in recent times  when he was active there were plenty of criticisms on the music industry.

So the recent dust up should not be a surprise. Except it’s surprising that there’s anyone in the media spotlight that still gives a damn for country music.

Though he names Nashville, I don’t believe ire is not with the Athens of the South. Nashville is not the city Merle and Willie left behind. And, though it’s more than to market it, the city is not the mainstream music industry. These days you’re just as likely to catch your favorite Americana act at the 5 Stop than the hat acts whooping the tourists at Tootsie’s.

Music Row, the self-appointed monopoly of Country Musicâ„¢ has been exploiting, but not reflecting, the legacy of passing legends, many of which wouldn’t receive a return phone call from the executives when they were alive, for decades.
Not enough units in it, don’t you know.

From Buck to Waylon to Cash hollow post-mortem accolades has been a reality for years. the crass, commercial canonization will continue when the next wave of greying Outlaws head off to the great honky-tonk in the sky. This is be expected for an institution bereft of even the thinnest reverence for the legacy they’ve built their sprawling Central Tennessee ranches on. An industry so risk intolerant and money focused (i.e greedy) that they graft whatever popular trend onto what’s left of the country music corpse just to wring out a few more hard-earned dollars from their audience.

If anyone mainstream deserves an award named after Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert would be one of a select few. Tabloid drama aside her music has trended toward the gritty, sassy and independent side is the country music tracks her entire career.

But part of me thinks that of Lambert, or anyone else deserving of an award bearing The Hag’s name, would just tell the American Country Music Association thanks but no thanks.

I’d bet Merle would approve.

Whether you agree with him or not Simpson did something that Music Row has never done. Put the legacy of country music above personal commercial interest. He writes offhandedly in his post that he will be “blackballed” from that side of the industry. Unless he was willing to change everything about his songwriting and suddenly became enamored with celebrity, I’m not sure there was the risk of his name being included on that list. As I’ve said Music Row has a reluctance toward artist bent on self-determination.

Sturgill spoke out because he felt a mentor, a friend’s, legacy was being exploited in a cynical way. This bothered him personally and he took time from his current successful tour to express that sentiment at length. This doesn’t have the markings of a PR stunt (though the media has since run with it) and is very much in line with the Sturgill I’ve spent time with on a number of occasions. Warm, thoughtful, direct and fiercely loyal to his ideals.

The new rank of outlaws, and I use that term in the way established by Willie and Waylon – artists that take their own road to establishing their carriers – are here to bear witness to the Giants that came before and the profound debt owed. By them, by us, and by an industry that helped create.

Luckily Music Row isn’t the only game in town.

Americana and the thriving roots music movement where Simpson’s early career thrived has provided a creative vehicle for the new as well as the old guard that  couldn’t, nor would want to, get a meeting  on music row. 

Screw ’em. There’s a force of artists and fans hungry to create, and financially support those taking an independent road.
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