Sturgill Simpson To Aspiring Musicians: “Don’t Come To Nashville, Get A Van & Start Playing Everywhere Else”

Sturgill Simpson in a military uniform
Photo by Semi Song

Any time you can get an hour and a half of conversation with Sturgill Simpson, you have to listen.

Sturgill stopped by the Trillybilly Worker’s Party podcast recently and amid conversations about growing up in Kentucky, acting, politics, Kanye West, and his killer new record, they discussed something near and dear to my heart… the bullshit coming out of Nashville.

Sturgill expounded on the country music industry, the powers that be, the gatekeepers of the industry, and offered a nugget of advice to aspiring young musicians that want to move to Nashville and make country music.

“It’s an industry and it provides jobs, and 99% of the people are good people, they are just doing a job. And the job is the job, but at the end of the day, ultimately, they don’t believe in anything except getting paid because that’s what we’re all here for right? Where I screwed up, I moved to Nashville thinking I wanted to be a songwriter… but I didn’t know what writing songs in Nashville now really meant until I got here as a 35 year old man and looked around and you see the writing on the wall, and you see what that means now.

Now I’d rather go die in a train wreck than do that… sitting in a cubicle with 8 other people writing literal horse shit dribble, feeding the formula. And I was like ‘well alright, I don’t wanna do that, I’ve got all these songs so I guess I’ll try and record them and make a record.’ So you kick around the can…  and you realize Nashville is not gonna be any help so we just got busy playing shows and touring.

That would be my advice… my advice to anybody coming to Nashville is don’t come to Nashville, just get a van and start playing everywhere else. Because you’re not going to get paid to play here, there’s only like 30 players and they’re all going to show up and decide whether your star is bright and shiny enough for them and if they decide ‘no’ then you’re just gonna end up spinning your wheels here for 5 years for nothing when you should’ve been playing everywhere else. And that’s it in a nutshell. You need a lawyer and you need a good booking agent you can trust, you don’t really need anything else anymore… a good publicist helps.”

His opener Tyler Childers recently echoed the same sentiment, and it also mirrors something we’ve said on our podcast, Whiskey Riff Raff, multiple times. You want real fans? Get out on the road, tour your ass off, and earn them. You’ll be better off for it.

So there you have it, words of wisdom from Sturgill Simpson. Take notes people.

Sturgill’s A Good Look’n Tour kicks off this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, featuring support from Tyler Childers. You won’t want to miss it.

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“Yeah so me and my friends are doing this arena thing this weekend, so I need something that’s good look’n with a lot of sound, and furious undertones”. It’s finally here, Sturgill and crew are getting set to start the tour Friday and HOLY SHIT it feels like it’s been forever y’all. The first show kicks off this Friday in Birmingham and runs through May, then the reclusive Sturgill will return back to his hibernating state deep in the mountains. Sound off if you’re coming out to the Good Look’N Tour, it’s about to get really fucking wild. 📷 by our pal @justin.lascek who will be along for the tour and follow him for some updates along the way as well. . . . #wherethefuckissturgillsimpson #dudethishollywoodactorwaslookingatguitarstoday #alreadyusinghistaxrefund #justabunchofmoparsguitarsandotherstufficantbuy #instoredemos #kickedoutforplayingstairwaytoheaven #doesthisguitarmakemybandlookbig #teamlespaulvsteamtele #wherethefuckissturgillscreditcard #bobmaxeditoutagainonkeyboards #anywayhereswonderwall #remembertotune #siryourcardsaystylerchildersimgoingtoneedtoseesomeID #guitarsallaroundyou #alittlebitcountryalittebitrockandroll #sturgillsimpson #sturgill

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A beer bottle on a dock


A beer bottle on a dock