Sturgill Simpson | KCRW’s “Country In The City” Concert Series | 7/19/14 [REVIEW]

CLICK HERE To Check Out The Blog Entries Of The Other Acts Performing At KCRW’s “Country In the City” Concert Series

Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation
Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation

KCRW has once again curated a summer concert series with talent overflowing. Inspired by The Annenberg Space for Photography’s newest exhibit,Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” which will be on display through September 28th, 2014, KCRW’s “Country In The City” Concert Series brings to Los Angeles a country music line-up that any Nashville resident would be proud off.

Kicking off the concert series with Sturgill Simpson, KCRW brought a brand of outlaw country music that has had critics raving since his debut 2013 album, “High Top Mountain”. Since then Sturgill has been going at it hard, touring relentlessly, recording his follow-up album in four days, and releasing “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” in May of 2014, gaining more and more fans along the way.

Perhaps it’s his gruff voice. Perhaps it’s his passionately effective lyrics. Perhaps it’s his unassuming and down-to-earth honestly. Whatever “it” is, it seems to be working.

Sturgill took the stage with his band (Miles Miller on drums, Kevin Black on bass and Laur Joamets on Guitar) and immediately announced to the audience that he was honored to be opening for Gregg Allman. After powering through the first song, he earnestly apologized to the audience for being less than 100%, promising the audience that he was still going to, “hit it hard, and try to get to 90%”.

His “country” humor came out when he introduced “Long White Line,” stating, “This ones for the ladies …. That’s bullshit. It’s all for the ladies”, and afterwards he introduced his band members, noting that his guitar player, who was effortlessly strumming country licks, Laur Joamets, was from Estonia.

“Just keeping it real,” Sturgill smirked with a sly look to his players.

He mixed in a little bluegrass, and some covers. Before playing his cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “I Never Go Around Mirrors” noted that this time last year when he played “the Hotel Cafe, there was 20 people there.” A look of appreciation beamed from his grizzled face as looked into the audience.

He even gave the audience a little history behind several of the tunes. For example, before closing the night with “Railroad of Sin”, he explained that when he was starting his path as a songwriter, his wife said that he had to have a song with a train in it cause every country artist had one. When it was all said and done, and before closing the set with “Railroad of Sin,” he told the audience how lucky they were to have Gregg Allman coming up proclaiming that, “That ain’t no bullshit.”

Happy he was going to have the rest of the evening off, he joked that he and the band usually stayed sober after gigs in order to travel to the next venue … but not tonight.

I certainly hope you had a chance to unwind Sturgill. You deserved it.

(Approximate) Setlist:

  1. Sitting Here Without You
  2. Water In A Well
  3. Long White Line
  4. Poor Rambler (Carter Stanley cover)
  5. Medicine Springs
  6. Life Of Sin
  7. Living The Dream
  8. I Never Go Around Mirrors (Lefty Frizzell cover)
  9. Railroad Of Sin

CLICK HERE To Check Out The Blog Entries Of The Other Acts Performing At KCRW’s “Country In the City” Concert Series

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