Last week as I was looking for new up and coming artists that are trying to bring back the “country” to country music, immediately I come across Sturgill Simpson. Sturgill Simpson is a quiet, solemn-faced man that speaks very little but when he opens his mouth it sounds like he’s singing straight from the Heavens; or you may hear a little Waylon Jennings in his voice either way Sturgill is a God send to country music.
Sturgill was born and raised in Kentucky, son of a secretary and undercover narcotics officer who later went on to spend three years in the United States Navy. In 2004, Sturgill created the band Sunday Valley, who participated in the Portland Pickathon, not long after though Sturgill took a break from country music and went to Utah to work for the railroad. Thank God Sturgill decided to come back to music, this time as a solo artist dropping his first solo album in 2013 called, High Top Mountain which was titled for the cemetery in Jackson, Kentucky where some of his family is buried. The coolest part of this record besides Sturgill, Merle Haggard’s former guitarist was the sessions guitarist for the album. One year later Simpson released “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music,” which was recorded in one week with a budget of $4,000. I have listened to both albums on repeat since finding Simpson, both are absolutely incredible, and every song is written by Sturgill himself!!
Sturgill is quickly gaining fame and is being called the “Savior of Country Music” and even Merle Haggard has dubbed him his favorite country music artist, “There’s a guy that’s stirring some noise, his name is Sturgill Simpson. He’s doing it with traditional country and he’s hotter than a pistol,”  Haggard says of Sturgill. Sturgill has recently played at the famous Ryman Auditorium, the David Letterman Show and even the Grand Ole Opry amongst many others. To my surprise I found out that Sunday, November 15th he would be playing at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene and I knew immediately I had to be there, so my good friend Margie Locks and I made the venture to Eugene to see this future legend in person!
Now I knew that Sturgill’s performance would be one for the record books, and I had a pretty good idea that I was going to see something pretty amazing, but I was not prepared for what I saw last night at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene. I walked into this theatre and immediately was in awe, see this theatre was opened in 1925 and has the same look still today. The first floor you walk in and it’s only standing room; with beautiful vaulted ceilings, as the upstairs is seating only; complete with a bar for your drinking pleasures. If you walk into another portion of this theatre, you will find the lounge, where lots of people were preparing for the show of a lifetime. However, the funniest thing we saw at a table just outside of the theatre room was a table complete with earplugs and free condoms. Safety first I guess.
Sturgill came out, playing a long intro with beautiful sounds coming from his guitar and his band members who play the keyboard, electric slide guitar and drums; I can’t figure out what I enjoyed more, the sounds coming from Sturgill’s beautiful voice or the amazing instrumentals that were played. Being that this was in Eugene there were so many different types of people, yet everyone in that venue stomped their feet, bobbed their heads and tried hard as hell to get to the front of the stage where I was at. So many sounds other than Sturgill’s were shining bright through the venue, crowds of people screaming; “God bless you, Sturgill,” echoed over and over again. One thing I noticed about Sturgill, aside from his straight-faced look, he always panned through the audience deeply looking at every crazed country music fan, when he glanced over to me I threw my hand up making the love sign in sign language. Sturgill looked right at me and gave me the most humbling warm smile as to understand my moment of saying, “Thanks Sturgill for true country music!” Sturgill’s sound is of true country music and the original Outlaw country sound; it is clear why this man is being called the “Savior of Country Music.”
Today I write this, still in awe of what I witnessed last night at the McDonald Theatre, I wish I could go back and do it again. For most of the performance I was in shock, couldn’t believe that this man, who I just found a week ago, was the best country music singer I have come across since the good ole days of country music. The finale of the night was an amazing performance; I would tell you the song title but I don’t remember, as the music was primarily a long set of instrumentals and the longer they played the faster he picked his guitar. I stomped my feet right there with everyone else’s, the longer he played the harder we stomped.. the floor shook and for once I felt I was at a true blue country music concert. Sturgill’s music and talent the way he played, how he didn’t just sing as he would step away between lyrics to jam it out with the band, but when he did open his mouth; holy moly, it was like the heavens opened up and said, “I love you Rikki..you hardcore country music loving girl!”
I urge you, if you are a classic country loving guy or gal to look up Sturgill Simpson, try looking up Life of Sin, Railroad of Sin, Turtles All the Way Down and The Promise… heck… just listen to every song… you won’t regret it! This man is sure to bring the country back to country, our saving grace to country music is here, and his name is Sturgill Simpson.