Sturgill Simpson had quite the birthday weekend.
Before turning 42 today (June 8), the singer-songwriter led an all-star bluegrass band on Friday night at country music's Mother Church, the Ryman Auditorium. The set, performed without a live audience in line with COVID-19 (coronavirus) precautions, teamed Simpson and his usual drummer Miles Miller with banjo picker Scott Vestal, mandolin player Sierra Hull, bassist Mike Bub, fiddler Stuart Duncan and guitarists Mark Howard and Tim O'Brien.
The livestream concert paid off a promise to fans that Simpson would perform at the former home of the Grand Ole Opry if his "Dick Daddy Survival School" t-shirt fundraiser raised at least $200,000. It aired on YouTube, Twitch and Nugs.TV. An event-themed show poster and t-shirt are available on Simpson's website.
Per the Tennessean, the efforts of Simpson, a coronavirus survivor, raised another $150,000 for the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund, Equity Alliance Nashville tornado relief fund and the Special Forces Foundation.
Simpson led a bluegrass band through grassed-up versions of such album cuts as "Living the Dream" from Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014) and "Breaker's Roar" off Grammy award winner A Sailor's Guide to Earth (2016). The collective of bluegrass musicians also covered The Stanley Brothers ("Pretty Polly," "Sharecropper's Son") and Simpson's former band Sunday Valley ("Sometimes Wine"). Note that this all took place in the building where Simpson's fellow Kentucky native Bill Monroe popularized the genre.
In related news, Simpson used his livestream platform to once again tease a pair of bluegrass albums. A since-deleted Instagram story showed Simpson in-studio with O'Brien, so expect plenty of star power once Simpson follows up his rock 'n' roll anime soundtrack Sound & Fury with a return to his Blue Grass State roots.
Sturgill Simpson at the Ryman Auditorium (6/5/2020) Set List
"Living the Dream"
"A Little Light"
"Life of Sin"
"All the Pretty Colors"
"Long White Line"
"Sitting Here Without You"
"All Around You"
"Time After All"
"Railroad of Sin"