Bass Player Kevin Black Leaves Sturgill Simpson’s Band
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.
March 15, 2016 @ 6:28 pm
Very sad to see Kevin Black go, but I have no doubt we’ll be seeing him in other cool projects in the future. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
March 15, 2016 @ 9:47 pm
That man could groove- he will definitely be missed.
March 16, 2016 @ 7:19 am
Sad to see Blackdaddy go! After shows, he was definitely the guy that would hang around and talk to us fans. And just seemed to be a nice dude. I think that connection with fans for Sturgill’s band will be missed. Since Sturgill has gotten so popular its been almost impossible to get any time with him or the rest of the band at even the smaller venues I’ve seen them in the past two years. But Kevin almost always hung around and chatted.
Good luck Kevin!
March 15, 2016 @ 6:33 pm
Maybe he doesn’t approve of Sturgill’s new sound and is resigning in protest.
March 15, 2016 @ 7:07 pm
Kinda what i was thinking… I sure hear “thanks Stu, good luck with that new stuff”
March 15, 2016 @ 7:40 pm
I find it much more likely/plausible that the guy just wanted to pursue his own/different projects or wanted a break from the road. Let’s face it, Sturgill has had a very heavy touring schedule over recent years and with Sturgill gearing up for another heavy road tour to promote the new album, maybe Black decided he wanted to be able to pick and choose his length of time on the road/gigs he took on (like filling in for Price’s husband) rather than committing to another long tour with Simpson.
March 15, 2016 @ 6:38 pm
Your article mentioned a theremin! Don’t see that every day.
March 15, 2016 @ 7:25 pm
He needs some singing saw to go with it.
March 15, 2016 @ 7:27 pm
He should hire me to play the jug and hambone!
March 16, 2016 @ 7:02 am
Tesla coils, a la Arc Attack :))
March 15, 2016 @ 8:00 pm
That scene from Walk Hard comes to mind when Dewy Cox is recording a new album. “We’re the strings tangy enough? We need more goat”
March 15, 2016 @ 7:03 pm
WHAT??? Transitioning from Sturgill Simpson to Margo Price is completely a step down!!!!!! It’s a fall down the metaphorical elevator shaft!!
Sturgill has original material and a unique sound, whereas everything I’ve heard from Margo Price is largely interchangeable with the majority of Ray-Price imitators the world over…
Good for her though, she deserves this. Kevin Black is a bass player among bass players, and having him in her band is a true badge of honor.
Such a shame that he won’t be with Sturg when I see him this summer tho. I’m really looking forward to that show.
March 15, 2016 @ 7:46 pm
Kevin Black did not leave Sturgill’s band to go work for Margo Price. Margo’s husband is also her long-standing bass player, and he tore a ligament in his hand so Kevin is filling in temporarily. I though Kevin was gracious to both Sturgill and Margo in his statement.
Didn’t know imitating Ray Price was such a hot profession these days where there wouldn’t just be enough for a plurality, but enough to make a majority. I’ll have to check them out because I love me some Price, Ray and Margo.
March 16, 2016 @ 7:10 am
Ah… well that’s good for her too. But it would be cooler if she brought Kevin Black along…
I think imitating Ray Price stylistically has been one of Country Music’s goldmines. Johnny Bush, Tony Booth and Joe Stampley did it, Margo Price is in the same vein of music. Don Walser used a lot of the same concepts but since he was a yodeler I tend to exempt him; maybe Kenny Price (a lot of Prices in Country Music)
And I’m on the fence about whether this is a bad thing. My Kenny Price records are among my favorites, but the lack of variety on Willie’s Roadhouse is a great example of one of the shortcomings of the seventies.
March 16, 2016 @ 7:21 am
Yea, love some Margo too! Definitely excited for the new album. I think she takes a big step forward this year.
April 11, 2016 @ 1:40 pm
Was good to see two players that have played my show backing Margo on SNL: Kevin Black, who played with Sturgill for my 2011 show, and Jamie Davis, former guitarist for Casey James Prestwood & the Burning Angels (GPI 2012). Margo’s husband on harp and Kevin on bass seemed like a winning combo to me.
March 15, 2016 @ 7:49 pm
The guy isn’t gonna go ahead and bash/insult/discredit his new boss in his first week on the job
March 16, 2016 @ 10:46 am
I don’t hear the Ray Price connection with Margo Price. I’ve been going through her youtube videos after reading your comment. Can you point me in the direction of some example tunes? I am happy to have discovered her, via your comment, for my ears today. I like her. She seems to be more grounded in the 70’s country sound than the big Ray Price shuffle sounds. https://youtu.be/yPiTQrbFu-o
Roland of Gilead
March 15, 2016 @ 7:50 pm
A horn section on the next tour?Say it ain’t so Stu, pretentious MUCH?
March 15, 2016 @ 9:46 pm
I think a horn section would be really cool. Horns are a staple in southern music, and have been used in plenty of good country songs. Of course, while I love country/bluegrass/gospel/folk music, I also have a love for southern rock, soul, Dixieland jazz, blues, and rockabilly, so I’m used to hearing a horn section. Maybe strict country fans won’t like it. Anyhow, I’m excited.
March 16, 2016 @ 7:11 am
When I saw Jerrod Niemann he had a horn section. Sturgill’s new album could sound like Donkey.
Roland of Gilead
March 16, 2016 @ 1:31 pm
I’m not gonna lie l’m disappointed the new album isn’t a going to be a straight ahead country album.A horn here or there probably will sound fine it just doesn’t seem very practical from a touring standpoint.
Tom Earl Conley
March 15, 2016 @ 10:18 pm
I don’t like any horns in my country, no matter what. Especially with his sound as good, simple, and clean as it is. Things are getting weird…
March 16, 2016 @ 3:52 am
I take it your not a fan of the Marshall Tucker Band?
March 16, 2016 @ 6:54 am
Must also hate Ring of Fire.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:42 am
Good thing Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson never used horns or saxophones on their recordings. I think I’d have to burn their records if they did.
March 16, 2016 @ 6:11 am
Merle Haggard used horns quite often.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:21 am
Marshall-tucker, ring of fire, Merle, all good examples. I respect Tom’s opinion, but i’d be fine with the horns. But remember, we don’t actually know that there is going to be a horn section on the record.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:48 am
Ya I love Marshall Tucker Bands sound, and especially enjoy when Merle’s songs with horns used like “A Friend in California!” But yes it is important not to get too carried away we don’t know if there will be horns on this album.
March 16, 2016 @ 10:48 am
There is going to be a horn section on the record. The Dap Kings. And there is going to be bagpipe on at least one song how cool is that.
March 16, 2016 @ 12:33 pm
Where did you get that information?
March 16, 2016 @ 1:03 pm
The Dap Kings were mentioned in the press stuff when “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” was being announced. I don’t know if it’s just a song or two that features horns or the entire album. Again I’d strongly caution everyone to just wait for the album to be released before making up their minds about anything.
March 16, 2016 @ 1:06 pm
Bagpipe, is it? Ahhhhhhhhhh, Jaysus. 😉
March 16, 2016 @ 4:33 pm
I heard it from someone that sat in the recording session. He says the album has more of soul vibe than a rock vibe, but who the hell really knows. I had even commented on another post on about the Dap Kings and horns way before any press stuff about the album being released.
March 16, 2016 @ 10:03 pm
Sounds cool Jeff, looking forward to it.
March 17, 2016 @ 1:41 pm
Bagpipes & theremin ? I know people have widely varied opinions of these instruments, but I’ve always liked both. I used to play trumpet, so the horn section suits me,too.
March 15, 2016 @ 10:30 pm
Call me crazy or pessimistic, but this seems like the kind of move that results from an absurd change in sound. You can’t tell me the band around him isn’t with him because they believe in what he’s doing. That absolutely has to be a factor. For the record, Brace For Impact has grown on me, but it still isn’t special.
March 16, 2016 @ 4:00 am
I’m a huge fan of Sturgills music, and I hate to say it, but from what I have heard on the new album I imagine i will be bailing as well…..for a bit. That said, I would bet ‘Stu’ eventually rights the ship after this little wreck.
March 20, 2016 @ 1:22 pm
This shit is straight cracking me up. People are “bailing” and the album isn’t even out yet. Lol. Kevin ain’t leaving due to a sound. That is a joke.
If I had my guess if would come down to payment shares, which in the course of musical gigging history, has been the #1 reason for such in bands as revenues increase. You almost can’t name a famous band in history this hasn’t happened somewhere along the road.
March 16, 2016 @ 4:10 am
Thanks, comments section! I was wondering how the new album would be. Now I know there’ll be ample horns in almost every track, his band hates it, it’s a complete wreck, and he’ll soon come to his senses.
I was waiting to hear more than a single track before deciding, so thanks for clearing that up for me! Btw, where’d you all get your advance copies from?
March 16, 2016 @ 7:11 am
and don’t forget he’s irrevelvant hahahahahahahahaha!!!
That comment followed me around for a while haha.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:23 am
Haha, I guess we just can’t resist speculating. We’re all too excited!
Bigfoot is Real (let that soak in)
March 16, 2016 @ 6:14 am
Dang, I loved Kevin Black’s choice of clothing. He and David Eugene Edwards are my two favorite clothing horses. Peyote meets Tom Mix.
March 16, 2016 @ 6:15 am
I was going to make a clever comment with an ‘Orange is the New Black’ twist, but I couldn’t find anything to rhyme with orange. 🙁
Stu is so fucking whacked out. He’ll be auditioning holophonor players next.
March 16, 2016 @ 6:59 am
When I was a young reporter, I thought being a metro paper’s pro baseball beat writer was the be-all of journalism. I mean, jeez, you get to watch baseball games for a living and then write about it. But when I worked on metro papers and got to know the baseball beat writers, I quickly saw what drudgery their job was 98 percent of the time. Lots of travel at weird hours, bizarre deadlines, bad food, hotels that all smell the same and after awhile, every game/city/team blends into the same boring blur.
I’m thinking the same thing happens for a lot of musicians. The touring seems glamorous for awhile (and who among us wouldn’t give our first-born to give it a try?) but then it just becomes a job that involves a lot of travel. You just want to be home. Maybe Black was feeling some of that.
Then again, one major difference between baseball beat writers and touring musicians: Writers never get groupies.
March 16, 2016 @ 7:25 am
I used to travel for my job every week and can attest to the fact that it definitely becomes a boring blur. It just made me want to be home full time. It was absolutely the decision maker when I changed jobs. And Kevin is probably feeling some of that too.
The road is a grind on you regardless of professions. Just wears you out!
March 16, 2016 @ 8:12 am
Slightly off topic, but does anybody know where I can find a Sunday Valley record? Not on itunes or anywhere else I’ve looked. I’ve never even heard the band, but im a Sturgill fan so I thought I’d give them a listen.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:23 am
I like Sunday Valley best. It’s a bummer and I assume due to some legal kerfuffle is why you can’t find it. Thankfully, there is youtube.
Sometimes Wine = https://youtu.be/T610KFOSNHw
Life Ain’t Fair (And the World is Mean) = https://youtu.be/rUpH0muyR-I
March 16, 2016 @ 5:05 pm
This is a good one: Folded Flag- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7cuCKzckp4
March 16, 2016 @ 9:25 am
I’ve been looking for a long time and I haven’t found anything. Maybe Amazon? Craigslist? I’d like to listen to it too.
March 16, 2016 @ 9:34 am
The Sunday Valley record was purposely pulled and made unavailable by Sturgill Simpson. Aside from finding a used copy, there is no way to purchase it legally. There has been talk over the years of re-releasing it, but nothing concrete so far.
March 16, 2016 @ 3:28 pm
The entirety of To The Wind And On To Heaven got uploaded onto Youtube recently, but the sound quality is pretty bad.
March 17, 2016 @ 8:26 am
Andrew, contact me if you’re interested: willjames[at]cosmicamericanproductions[dot]com
Rockin in OH
March 16, 2016 @ 5:10 pm
Got the Sunday Valley off of da web….not too shabby quality. Added it to the rest of my Sturgil music and you just cant beat Never Goin to Town at a 1000 decibels outta my Silvahrado is pure Murica!! I love it!!!
March 16, 2016 @ 9:13 pm
So far, I’m not a fan of “Brace for impact”, but I’ll wait to hear the whole album. I sort of thought the same thing as others at first about Kevin Black- it is an artistic parting of ways, but now I see that it could be the touring grind as well. I’m still bummed that Sturgill isn’t doing more country because he is such a brilliant lyricist, but oh well. Maybe at some point he will do an unplugged of this new record. That would be great.
March 20, 2016 @ 1:25 pm
You’ve heard one song.
This is all highly entertaining shit to read
Frank K- Harrisburg
March 16, 2016 @ 11:31 pm
Huge Sturgill fan and have been before he hit the mainstream! Super humble dude and have seen the band twice and was looking forward to it again. Not sure what to think of all this, def a debbie downer. The bag pipes sound cool and assuming they are for song#9.- King of arms 🙂 Good luck Mr. Simpson and to you Mr. Kevin Black.
March 17, 2016 @ 8:02 am
For what it’s worth, I remember Kevin as the friendliest of the three when they played my show as Sunday Valley. Best of everything to him.
March 20, 2016 @ 1:47 pm
We had the pleasure of meeting Kevin and Laur after a show in Salt Lake 1.5 years ago. Totally a class act. Both Kevin and Laur (who had just blown us away with some of the best live music we’d ever seen) were very humble, normal, nice dudes. At the time I thought “these guys have no idea how good they are.” After the fact, I think that’s just the way they are. I think Kevin and Miles’ playing are a HUGE part of what made Metamodern Sounds the powerhouse that it has become. I’m wondering if Sturgill’s new stuff will be able to have that same groove without Kevin.. In any case, I think that whatever outfit Kevin ends up with just might end of with another meteoric rise, like Sturgill. Ahh, the fate of the unappreciated bass player 🙂
March 21, 2016 @ 4:57 am
I feel we need more piano in almost any genre of music. When you hear it again you know you missed it. Well placed horns, are the same. Ordered the album and purchased tickets already. It will still beat the radio.
April 2, 2016 @ 10:50 pm
I always thought Kevin was the most boring musician to watch onstage. He is a nice guy, but damn he always looked like he was about to fall asleep or had some other place he needed to be. I really don’t think Sturgill’s music is going to suffer with him gone or his absence will even be noticeable. I have spent alot of time with those records, as I do all records, and I don’t hear this great bass playing everyone else is talking about. I wish him the best though.
April 5, 2016 @ 7:01 pm
Everyone.the answer to your question is, 42……relax .enjoy the art.powerfull sturgill simpson