See Sturgill Simpson team with "the greatest bluegrass band on the planet"

Only weeks after recovering from COVID-19, Sturgill Simpson returned to the stage and his bluegrass on 5 June for an hour-long set accompanied by some of the finest musicians in Nashville.

Reworking his songs in a bluegrass style for a unique show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium (previously home to the Grand Ole Opry), Simpson and his Martin D-28 were accompanied by mandolin player Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mike Bub (bass), Scott Vestal (banjo), Tim O’Brien (guitar), Mark Howard (guitar), and Miles Miller (drums).

Start playing bluegrass

(Image credit: Harvey Silver / Getty)

Where to start with this style of American roots music

Simpson described the musicians with him as “most likely the greatest bluegrass band on the planet” and it's hard to argue based on the results here.

Simpson's set also included two Stanley Brothers covers (Pretty Polly and Sharecropper's Son) and a version of Sometimes Wine from his old band Sunday Valley. 

(Image credit: Jason Kempin / Getty)

The set was a thank you to fans after Simpson's call-to-action raised nearly $250,000 for MusiCares COVID-19 Relief, Equity Alliance Nashville Tornado Relief, and the Special Forces Foundation. 

Another $170,000 was raised during the livestream too. 

(Image credit: Jason Kempin / Getty)

The Kentucky musician also announced from the stage that a two-volume album was in the works with the same musicians onstage. The previous week had been spent recording bluegrass versions of the songs from his four solo albums to date.

"I want to be a bluegrass musician because that's the music in my heart and soul"

"This is how these songs were originally written," said Simpson. "And I decided after climbing the ropes of country music standom and then completely destroying that career to make a rock 'n' roll record [a reference to 2019's Sound & Fury album] now I have great ambitions of a life of gravel parking lots and porta potties.

"I want to be a bluegrass musician because that's the music in my heart and soul. It's the music I was raised on. So we've been cutting all these songs again in bluegrass style and I lied to you, we're not putting out a record – we're putting out two records. We're putting out a volume one and a volume two this year."

Look out for those releases this Autumn. Head over to Simpson's Instagram for updates. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.