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SOLD OUT – Sturgill Simpson – SOLD OUT
September 11, 2016 @ 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm
Buy Tickets May 20 at 10 a.m.
5/19 presale is sold out. More tickets will be available 5/20 at 10 a.m.
Sturgill Simpson’s ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ is the rare album that traverses the entire world, both musically and lyrically. It’s dizzyingly diverse, jumping from one style to the next, with ports of call in Motor City and Music Row, Harlem and Stax, Berlin and London, yet it never leaves Simpson’s very specific point of view. It’s his most personal album as well as his most ambitious: a song cycle penned as a sailor’s poignant letter home to the wife and child he left behind.
Aptly, ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ is all over the map, presenting Simpson as music’s most daring auteur. He combines the sophisticated soul of ’70s Motown, the stomping r&b flash of the Dap-Kings, the reckless rave-ups of the Stones and the Clash, even the countrypolitan flare of legendary Nashville producer Owen Bradley. “I wanted it to be an exploration of all the different types of music that I love — a musical journey,” he says. “I listen to a lot of Marvin Gaye, a lot of Bill Withers. I like the way George Harrison sings and tried to incorporate that. Some people will say I’m trying to run from country, but I’m never going to make anything other than a country record. As soon as I open my mouth, it’s going to be a country song.”
For Simpson, who produced the album himself, country music is a strong foundation for heady experimentation and exploration. He’s been leading the charge to expand the genre’s reach, opening the doors for a new generation of rule-breaking musicians. His 2013 debut, ‘High Top Mountain,’ introduced him as a bold and raucous innovator with a sharp burr of a voice and a rousing band behind him. He followed it up quickly with 2014’s ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music,’ a headtrip album full of backmasked guitars, psychedelic Mellotron strings and heartfelt musings on the universe and his place within it. The album proved a surprise international hit, placing high on year-end lists of at array of publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, L.A. Times, Vogue, Stereogum, NPR Music and the Village Voice.
But when his son was born around the time that ‘Metamodern’ was garnering rave reviews, Simpson began to rethink his place in the music business machinery. “I really questioned whether I wanted to spend however many more years on this bus, not being there and seeing all that was happening,” he says. “That’s where this record came from, just processing all that guilt and homesickness. I had to figure out a way to put that into music, so I decided to write the whole record from the perspective of a sailor going to sea and not knowing if he’s ever coming home.” The idea has deep roots in the Simpson family: “I remembered an old letter that I read, written by my Grandfather Ora to my grandmother when he was in the Army. He was in the South Pacific during World War II, and he thought he was going to die. So he wrote a goodbye letter to her and their newborn son. He finally made it home five years later.”
To convey that deep sense of yearning that illuminates ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,’ Simpson drew not only from his life as a touring musician, but also from his own experiences in the U.S. Navy. He enlisted as a teenager and shipped out to basic training just two weeks after graduating high school. A few months later, he found himself on a frigate in Southeast Asia, spending ninety days at sea on a cramped, gray boat, then a few days at a different port. “I can’t even believe that’s the same person. We were so young, and we couldn’t comprehend the immense responsibility of what we were doing everyday. It seems like a lifetime ago.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.
Tickets go on sale Friday, May 20 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.
The Historic Alabama Theatre is a Ticketmaster facility.
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