Hear’s a story for you: In Nashville every September the Americana Awards take place. It’s a heady week apparently. All the usual suspects are there and there’s a performance or two to be enjoyed. Last year there was a young man slotted for a club appearance during the week’s festivities. His name was Sturgill Simpson and the show he performed at the The Basement that week became one of THE talking points of the week. A few weeks later I received his debut album and we started playing it on the show. By January of this year he was performing at Celtic Connections and recording the first of two sessions for the AC within 9 months. I don’t think that has happened with any previous guest.
Such was the energy of Sturgill that we were playing his second album a few months after we’d introduced the first. For many country fans his Meta-modern Sounds in Country Music became an essential soundtrack to the year. Fusing influences of Traditional Bluegrass, Bakersfield, Outlaw Country and Trucker Bluegrass Sturgill is the current keeper of the country flame. And for that we are very grateful. This Friday you can hear Sturgill and his band perform songs from that album and more and also hear about his extraordinary year where he’s taken country back to his Kentucky roots and everyone…well those people wise enough to have listened….is liking it very much. If you’ve ever looked at the massed stetsons decorating record sleeves and worried that country music might have lost its soul, then I suggest Sturgill may well be the musical physician you most need.
Last week I visited New York City for a family holiday and over the ‘three eggs, fried green tomatoes and corn muffin’ southern breakfast one fine morning I spied across the road from our corner bakery a distinctive thrift store sign. No shop worthy of that description could not a vinyl section I surmised. I was right. On Friday evening I’ll bring you the fruits of my discovery on our vinyl rediscovery.
We’ll hear some thing from Bonnie Prince Billy – though what that is yet we’re still not sure. As ever there is more than one Bonnie Prince Billy release to play – but they are all fab, so fear not. We’ll have some Isley inflected soul from our Montreal friends The Barr Brothers whose album Sleeping Operator is essentially a thing of joy. We’ll play more of that Memphis tinged Frazey Ford album which is a real delight too and we’ll introduce you to the music of a young man from Dunblane called Aaron Fyffe. Sound good? Not convinced? We’ll also have Patty Loveless singing Tia Sillers favourite country song of all time. I thought that might work.
Join us if you can on Friday evening from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.