I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say…

Screen-Shot-2014-04-17-at-1.52.29-PMOK, so in no particular order, other than of the recording I was most looking forward to hearing again, first up it’s Sturgill…

Sturgill Simpson

I confess I had not heard of this feller at all until he appeared on the Green Man roster a few months ago (he’s not the first to have come to my attention this way – you can certainly trust the Green Man bookers…) He has a recent record out called Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which has been billed as a sort of psychedelic country blend but in truth there’s little for the freakbeat fanatic here other than a series of drug references. The man’s certainly lived a bit, a modern-day Hank Williams fuck-up, if you will.

The record’s lovely though and well worth grabbing if you get the chance (it’s on eMusic…). I listened to it quite a lot at about the same time I bought my GM ticket but by the time I wandered over to the Mountain Stage on Friday afternoon, I’d not heard it for a while. I was actually a bit concerned for Sturgill, thinking the smaller Walled Garden stage might have been more suitable for him rather than the grander scale of what is the largest stage on the site (I do worry for my charges…). Well, dummy that I am, I needn’t have lost any sleep.

Flanked by a rugged band of brigands, whom I reckon know how to look after themselves in a tight spot, he went through a fierce, confident set which took in most of the record plus a good few I didn’t know which I assume came from his first album. Actually another word about his band: Sturgill’s guitarist, Lil’ Jo Joamets, is apparently raising a few eyebrows in Memphis, not only because he’s a goddam Yoo-ro-pean (Estonian, no less) but also because he’s even more of an outsider, coming as he does from a heavy metal background. I was unaware of this (which is probably just as well – you know how I take against people…) but he was pretty special, adding a real edge to Sturgill’s spikey, belligerent songwriting. (There’s a decent interview with Lil’ Jo here.)

Having said all this, Sturgill is still mining some familiar territory and sits pretty comfortably in the outlaw company of Country greats. In fact, listening to the record, I was constantly drawn to Jerry Lee’s country output from the sixties for comparison, and I was reminded of this as he stood there with the impassive Welsh hills glowering in the background (obviously not the keyboard pyrotechnics – and presumably not the marriages to underage cousins). He rollicked through a series of belters which were well-received by an afternoon crowd and the version of “Listenin’ to the Rain” was a particularly electrifying ending to the set. It was a really, really strong performance and I am looking forward to seeing him in tighter surroundings when he returns to these shores.

The recordings are, well, festival recordings and therefore more prone to chitchat and outside “atmosphere”, but I commend them to you heartily:

Life of Sin

Livin’ the Dream

The Promise

Listenin’ to the Rain