First the news:
Sturgill Simpson will be appearing in a free live stream event via webcast on Friday, June 5th at 7 p.m. Central from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The streaming event will be to benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, The Equity Alliance Nashville Tornado Relief, and the Special Forces Foundation. The event will be available via nugs.net, Twitch, and YouTube. See bottom of the article for an embedded player.
Joining Sturgill will be bluegrass pickers Stuart Duncan, Mike Bub, Sierra Hull, Scott Vestal, Tim O’Brien and Mark Howard.
Simpson has been running a pledge drive for these charities via his Instagram page over the past few weeks, and says he’s raised $250,000 towards the charities. In Instagram posts (now deleted), Simpson told followers that if they raised a certain amount, he would do the streaming event, as well as release a new album this year.
Sturgill also recently posted a video of himself, his drummer Miles Miller, engineer and producer David Ferguson, and others heading into the studio to cut new versions of his old songs.
“Y’all raised Scrooge McDuck pile of $$$ to help a lot of people in need and I promised you a record this year,” Sturgill said in the now deleted post. “So I’m taking a detour from the five album plan to cut my entire back catalogue of songs for you guys the way they were written and meant to be played … ruff, rugged, n’ raw.”
Sturgill added in the video accompanying the post, “Get your Zyrtec ready cuz we cuttin’ that grass,” alluding that it could be bluegrass versions of his previous songs. Interesting to note, the last time Sturgill appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in May of 2019, he played an exclusively bluegrass set.
Sturgill’s recent arena tour with Tyler Childers was also raising funds for the Special Forces Foundation before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UPDATE (6/5): During Sturgill’s live stream from the Ryman, he confirmed he would have two albums—and Volume 1 and 2—coming out “in the fall” of previously-released songs done bluegrass style.
A Note from The Editor:
Sturgill Simpson has been making many posts on Instagram over the last few weeks, announcing news and raising funds for charity. Some, including Sturgill Simpson himself, have questioned why the media has not reported on this activity.
First, Sturgill Simpson has been making posts on Instagram, and then deleting them shortly thereafter. It is already frowned upon by many in the media to post articles solely off of what someone says on social media. Ideally, any information on social media should be independently verified, or at least cross referenced with a secondary source. If a post is deleted, this makes it even more difficult to report on it, since you can’t verify the information at all, if you even saw it in the first place. Was it deleted due to errors, because the information was incorrect, because it’s no longer valid?
Second, recently Sturgill Simpson has become quite combative with the media. Combined with the continued polarization from the mere mention of his name for certain music fans angry that he’s moved away from country, and from some political statements he’s made in the past, the topic of Sturgill Simpson has become very difficult to broach in general. On a (now deleted) Instagram post Simpson wrote on May 23rd congratulating his followers for helping him raise over $200,000, he also said:
Now, to some of my rich ass friends that ghosted out hard, y’all fair weather bitches got some explaining to do. Id also like to point out that not a single one of the usual suspect music press outlets (Rolling Stone/Pitchfork/Paste/American Songwriter/Uproxx/Fader/etc) that writes about me every time I fart or say something sensational or get the ‘Rona bothered posting one single word about our fundraising efforts here since we began..but you can bet your sweet asses that if I posted a vid today of myself sitting on the toilet giving a play by play of a white house press conference Id be on CNN right now. I mean,..just imagine how much money we could have raised if they’d all helped out and actually spread the word about something positive without me having to pay a publicist to ask them to. What a world it would be…
But in the defense of the media, Sturgill Simpson was taking a “post and delete” stance to the information he wanted the media to carry. When the stream on Friday from the Ryman Auditorium was announced, and that information could be verified with nugs.net and others, Rolling Stone, JamBase, Brooklyn Vegan, and now Saving Country Music and others all reported on it. It wasn’t that any of these outlets did not want to support a charitable effort. It is great and noble that Sturgill is using his celebrity to raise funds for important causes. But there are many celebrities and causes asking for money at the moment, and you can’t cover them all. So you start with the ones you can verify all the information for.
All that said, I, Trigger, have chosen to not offer compulsory coverage for Sturgill Simpson moving forward, as has been done in the past. That doesn’t mean I don’t support Sturgill’s charitable endeavors. He deserves full credit for his efforts. That also doesn’t mean I won’t cover Sturgill Simpson at all, especially if he does release further albums, and country albums specifically, and those efforts will be covered with professionalism and objectivity.
Instead of explaining why this will be the case moving forward in detail, it was arguably best laid out in a comment posted by a Saving Country Music reader named Andrew on the site in late April.
I guess Trigger can’t win. I still think you’re a bit easy on Sturgill given how much damage he’s caused this community of fans and specifically, the community surrounding the “traditional” or “Alt.” country scene he made his name in. While Sturgill never had the ability to “destroy country music,” Sturgill Simpson’s blatant betrayal of his original genre, fanbase, and message certainly was capable and DID almost single-handedly cause this community to become an UGLY place through creating needless hostility between, what used to be, unified supporters of a special and under appreciated type of music.
Destroying the unity amongst alt. country music fans is Sturgill Simpson’s unforgivable sin, not his personal politics, not his ego, not his substance issues (although the first 2 certainly contributed to his actions and I wish him the best regarding the last wherever he may currently be in that process). He has irreparably damaged this community and countless artists through his actions in a manner that no one will ever truly fully comprehend. Worse yet, he’s divided virtually the entire Alt country community in two by running his mouth in a manner that detracts from, not adds to “country music” or “music” in general. He may claim that “country” is a pointless category and isn’t relevant to him but, he was the one singing lines like “I’m tired of y’all playing dress up trying to sing them old country songs” fueling that fire not too long ago. Nowadays, Sturgill Simpson is closer to either a John Stewart or Kim Kardashian than your favorite Highwayman nowadays and the substance of the comments attached to his name reflect this point ad nauseum (I reckon some of those fellows disagreed on politics as they championed each other to legendary status by the way).
While there’s always been a group of people who only listen to artists with the same political agenda they have, those people are not only almost always politically inept followers incapable of grasping the nuance of complex problems, they are also musically incompetent due to their voluntary omission of approximately half of the great country music available on this planet over some political affiliation they don’t really understand to begin with. This community’s toxicity increased drastically in response to Sturgill Simpson’s pollution. So much so, I literally refrain from gigging original music because I wouldn’t want some of y’all as fans, so much so, I’m happier without following this website because the commenters are so distasteful, and that is a real shame.
Sturgill Simpson is by far the single largest villain in causing and encouraging virtually every single MUSICAL discussion about him that extends beyond 3 valid points and rebuttals to end in a POLITICAL insult. THAT IS NOT WHAT COUNTRY MUSIC OR ANY MUSIC IS ABOUT AND WE SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED! Sturgill, like all artists and people, is entitled to his opinions and political beliefs. He is entitled to write and sing political songs if that’s what he chooses to do. His dismissal and disdain for fans of his that hold different political opinions than his own is always going to seem childish and lacking in class when compared to the approach of say a Dolly Parton but, it is his right none the less. What he should NOT be permitted to get away with is encouraging, whether willfully or negligently, a group of music fans o to stop supporting music, artists, and each other on the basis of politics. Remember, Sturgill was openly super liberal back in his Sunday Valley days so, anyone whom can discuss that album and says they liked his country music was aware of his political affiliation at that time. The difference is, back then he was making political points, now he is spewing hatred towards people he owes a great deal.
He should be ashamed of the way he’s treated the people who caused this pretentious whiney millionaire to become a millionaire to spite his bad attitude and inability to play well with others. Sturgill owes countless fans and dollars to SCM and doesn’t deserve the mercy he’s been shown in SCM articles in my humble opinion for the above-stated reasons. I don’t think I’ve commented on a SCM ARTICLE discussing Sturgill since Sturgill was country because the community and COMMNETS are always too ugly to ignore (although I know my policy of not calling people out by name has led to some confusion as to whether I was criticizing the author or a commenter in the past, for the record, I’ve never had anything beyond a healthy difference of opinion with the author as he’s always done the work and formed sound opinions worthy of respect at minimum) I do love and miss aspects of this site but, after watching the damage Sturgill has done to this place, I still can’t stomach the number of remaining Sturgill Supporters (even as that number has decreased DRASTICALLY since my last appearance) because he’s made a real mess of the community surrounding the music I love and isn’t really being held accountable.