The longest tenured member of Sturgill Simpson’s band has moved on. After a few weeks of chatter about how he may not be making Sturgill’s next tour, bass player Kevin Black officially announced Tuesday (3/15) that he will no longer be a part of Sturgill’s band moving forward. Though no reason was given, or if the decision was made by either Black or Simpson, the parting appears to be mutually amicable, and the two remain friends.
“[Sturgill’s] been one of my best friends and mentors since moving to Nashville nearly six years ago,” Kevin Black said on Instagram Tuesday. “Although it’s time to move on and we won’t be playing together anymore, we remain friends and I’m excited for what’s to come for the both of us. All the best to you, Stu.”
The news has caused some concern among Sturgill Simpson fans that the Kentucky native’s entire band might be blowing up ahead of his new record A Sailor’s Guide to Earth coming April 15th, and a subsequent tour scheduled to start in early May. However there’s no indication that is the case. Saving Country Music has confirmed that guitarist Laur “Lil’ Joe” Joaments, who was nominated for the Americana Instrumentalist of the Year from his work with Sturgill Simpson in 2015, is still with the band at the moment. And so is drummer and fellow Kentuckian Miles Miller who began playing with Sturgill before he released his first solo album High Top Mountain in 2013.
Sturgill added keyboardist Jeff Crow to the lineup about a year ago, as well as a second keyboard and theremin player recently. Sturgill also made comments on a recent European solo tour that he may bring a horn section out on the road for the upcoming tour to accompany a heavy horn presence on his upcoming record. But the band has yet to commence rehearsals for the new tour, let alone finalize any lineup decisions.
Kevin Black originally began playing bass for Sturgill Simpson while Simpson was fronting the band Sunday Valley. Black replaced bass player Gerald Evans in 2011, and was playing with Simpson full time by the time the band made their first major West Coast tour in August. Black later made the transition with Sturgill into his solo career. Kevin was a favorite of many Sturgill Simpson fans, and was known for hanging out and talking to fans after shows.
Kevin Black isn’t resting on his laurels though. “Playing with Margo Price this last week has been everything but a step down,” Kevin says. “She has one of the best voices and more charisma than anyone I know. Her and her husband (who I’m filling in for) and other band mates have also been some of my best friends since moving to town and thankful to be with them in Austin this week.”
Black will be playing with Margo during numerous gigs at this week’s SXSW festivities as she gets ready to release her debut record through Third Man Records, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter on March 25th. Her husband and bass player dislocated a tendon in his hand recently, resulting in the need of a replacement. Kevin Black has become a fixture of The 5 Spot in east Nashville over the last few years where Margo hails from, and Black has been known to play with other east Nashville musicians.
No word yet on who might be replacing Kevin Black at bass in Sturgill Simpson’s band.