Sturgill Simpson / Joe’s Pub / New York, NY / July 15, 2014

You’re obviously doing something right when David Byrne shows up to your sold-out show at Joe’s Pub.

For Sturgill Simpson, it’s been a busy past couple of days, gracing New York City with his southern charm. Monday: performance on David Letterman. Tuesday: Sirius XM Radio interview with Steve Earle, followed by not one, but two sets at Joe’s Pub. Rest on his laurels? Get real.

Sturgill Simpson, Joe's Pub, Metamoden Sounds in Country Music
Photo credit: Reto Strechi

Having sold out Tuesday night’s show at Joe’s Pub, a second was immediately slapped on as journalists and record labels filled the room for an intimate performance. With an 11:30 set, Simpson ushered the night well into the wee hours of Wednesday, playing music so raw and so revealing, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

In a recent Rolling Stone article, Shooter Jennings, son of the late badass Waylon Jennings, said of Simpson, “There are so many people who play guitar like my dad, but nobody actually gets it. Sturgill isn’t imitating at all, and he sounds like my favorite era of my dad, the Seventies, when he would sing quieter and more conversational.”

In between songs, Simpson’s congenial spirit shined through as he made everyone laugh while he ran though the several mispronunciations of his name to which many people fall victim. But whether or not people can pronounce his name need not matter; point is, he’s on their minds.

Highlighting his recent album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Simpson and his band rolled through the album’s high points like “Turtles All the Way Down” and “Living the Dream,” tipping their hats to the outlaws who came before while making this music completely their own. It was hard to keep your eyes off guitarist Laur Joamets as he sawed away with unrelenting dexterity. You’d think a band would show signs of fatigue after having played three sets within 24 hours—not these guys.

With plenty more fuel to burn, Sturgill Simpson and his band hit the road on both sides of the Atlantic (sharing stages with the Zac Brown Band) that have them busy through October.  New York, at Jones Beach, we dance (8/30).

– Melissa Caruso

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