Scenic City Roots returns to Track 29 on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 or $5 with a student ID.
The music of Simpson is at one end rugged and rowdy, and then, suddenly, there’s a welt in your throat and a tear in your eye. One reviewer of Sturgill’s music said, "Either he’s barreling down on you like a freight train at a breakneck tempo, or he’s grabbing hold of ventricles and tugging hard."
Simpson’s debut album, "High Top Mountain," is available for download and listening. On it you’ll find the fruits of hours in the studio making what he called "the purest, most uncompromising, hard country album anyone has made in 30 years."
We caught up with Simpson to discuss performing, his favorite guitar and life on the road.
Sturgill, I read a review of "High Top Mountain" that said your music is going to "bring Nashville back out of the gutter." Thoughts? What gutter?
Whoever made that statement has probably never been to Nashville. It's the best music scene on the planet right now. If they're talking about modern pop country and radio, I really couldn't say. I don't really pay much attention to it, and I'll never understand why so many people spend so much time talking about music they don't like instead of just searching out music they can enjoy and feel positive about.
Scenic City Roots, like its sister show in Nashville, is a short format for performers. Can you get in the groove of things in 20 minutes, or do you like to stretch your musical legs a bit? What's the perfect audience like?
Some of the most fun shows I've ever played were also the shortest ... A 20-minute set can be a fairly intense exercise in explosive energy, but I'd say 45 minutes to an hour is about perfect for me in terms of set length for both audience and artist. I've never enjoyed filling out time slots with slews of covers, and even if Led Zeppelin is on the stage, after an hour I'm gonna get bored. The perfect audience could be 15 people or 15,000 people ... as long as it doesn't have a single camera phone.
Tell me the story of your favorite guitar.
Now I'm mainly playing a very trusted Martin D-28. It's not vintage old or anything, but I must have played about 30 Martins both new and old the day I bought it, and it just seemed to be the most balanced. It just felt and sounded right to my ears. I've bought and sold so many guitars in my life I basically decided I was done and that this is the only one I'll ever really need, so I just carved my name (and my strum pattern) into it so I could never sell it. I used to play a lot of electric guitar, but carrying amps got old and so did I. Now, I can hop out of the van and carry everything into the club or the hotel in one trip ... I'm finding that this makes me very happy.
Have you played Chattanooga before? If so, what do you think of our city? If not, have you had a MoonPie?
I've never played Chattanooga before, but I have certainly eaten more than my fair share of MoonPies as a child ... RC Cola always seemed the best bet for washing them down, to me.
You've got a busy few months on tour to promote the record. Any stops you're looking forward to? The Wormy Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City sounds interesting.
Honestly, I'm looking forward to every single one ... The band is very young, and we're having a lot of fun tearing these songs apart every night. I haven't had time to really think about the full schedule. I'll generally allow myself to look about two weeks out at a time so I don't get overwhelmed with anxiety. Getting excited about a show a month away instead of focusing on the one you are playing today can be dangerous, if you're not careful, and sometimes even disappointing.
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