Sturgill Simpson’s “Cuttin’ Grass” Sees Strong Chart Debut

Without any physical product being sold yet (it’s still being manufactured), Sturgill Simpson’s surprise bluegrass album Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions reprising 20 songs from his catalog in bluegrass form sees a surprisingly strong debut in the charts, bolstered significantly by big streaming numbers.

Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 debuts this week at #2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart thanks to songs from the title being streamed a total of 12,401,961 times during its debut week. Add on top of that 10,148 album downloads, and 3,492 in songs sales, and it was edged out only slightly by Luke Combs and What You See Is What You Get, which earned 21,779 total equivalent album units taking into consideration sales, streaming and downloads to Sturgill’s 20,332.

If physical product had been available—which accounts most strongly on the album charts—Sturgill would have surely been at #1. Both CDs and vinyl copies of Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 are expected to be available and ship by December 8th. The numbers will also be good enough to put Simpson at #1 on both the Billboard Folk/Americana chart, and the dedicated Bluegrass chart. Cuttin’ Grass also comes in at #24 on the all-genre Billboard 200.

Sturgill Simpson is part of a select group of non mainstream-supported artists who’ve been turning the tables on the mainstream on the albums charts in recent years with strong debuts. Sturgill’s Grammy-winning record A Sailor’s Guide to Earth debuted at #1 in country in 2016, and #3 overall. His last studio album—the more rock-oriented Sound & Fury—debuted at #3 in both country and rock.

Cuttin’ Grass is also Sturgill Simpson’s first album since becoming an independent artists again after releasing his last two albums on Atlantic and Elektra. Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 was released via Sturgill’s own High Top Mountain Records distributed by Thirty Tigers.

“This album also begins a new phase for my career. I’m starting back the way I started out, on my own record label,” Sturgill said in a lengthy letter to fans. “I’m realizing more and more every day what I already knew, which is that I was always supposed to be an independent artist. I’m just trying to look forward and create without any industry timelines or narratives and all the creative restrictions that inevitably come with them. The real benefit is that I’ve completely fallen back in love with music again.”

Collaborators on the Cuttin’ Grass album include fiddler Stuart Duncan, Sierra Hull on mandolin and backing vocals, banjo player Scott Vestal, Tim O’Brien and Mark Howard on guitar, and Mike Bub on bass. Sturgill’s drummer Miles Miller also took part in the sessions that were produced by David “Ferg” Ferguson at The Butcher Shoppe in Nashville. The album came about after Simpson challenged his fans to raise money for The Special Forces Foundation and various other charities, promising to release a new record if they reached a certain goal.

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