On this week’s Another Country you will hear a conversation and a rather great selection of tracks from Sturgill Simpson. You probably know a bit about Sturgill by now but in case you haven’t caught up with his career here’s a quick resume´:
Sturgill emerged into country music about six years ago when his debut album, High Top Mountain, was released. It was getting a lot of attention from opinion formers and one or two people started mentioning his name as well as forwarding early copies. It struck me then that Sturgill was the real deal with roots deep in the music of his home state of Kentucky and less bedded in the current fads of Music Row. Naturally, we liked that a lot.
Most of this was borne out when he first visited us, told us his own back story of a career in the navy, a period of manual labour and finally a late entrance into music. Since that first conversation we’ve managed to talk to Sturgill and record sessions or concerts a good number of times in a period it would take other artists to get round to a second record. He’s followed up that debut album with four studio albums in the subsequent five years, a number of successful tours at home and internationally as well as being nominated for and eventually winning a Grammy and delivering a No 1 album on the rock and country charts.
This pic was taken on that first visit in 2014
If that hasn’t been a busy enough time he’s also been acting in TV and recently producing music for other artists including Tyler Childers, Lucette and Margo Price. It’s no wonder the lockdown came as a mixed blessing to Sturgill who, though contracting COVID, was still grateful to spend some time at home with his young family.
Nevertheless, despite delivering a new album at the tail end of last year, he has just released part one of a bluegrass series in which he reinterprets his own back catalogue with the help of Nashville’s finest acoustic pickers.
This Tuesday you’ll hear Sturgill talking about all of that, the studio space where he recorded and shared with the late John Prine, how he went about working with Margo Price and what he plans to do when all of this pandemic is finally over. There’s so much to love about the bluegrass album that, if you’ve not heard Cutting The Grass, I suspect you may well want to add it to your Santa list.
Despite Sturgill taking up a good hour of the show we will also share some great news from Grammy central where those who dish out the awards seem to be beautifully aligned with our favourite records of the last year. Nominations for Americana, Country and Bluegrass feature Little Big Town, The Highwomen, Miranda Lambert, Courtney Marie Andrews and Mickey Guyton. We’re delighted women are, if not in the majority, at least as well represented as the men. Hallelujah! It’s country music – our way for two hours this Tuesday evening from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland FM. Join me on the wireless or via BBC Sounds if you can.