Sturgill Simpson

Paradigm’s Jonathan Levine had his first “Sturgill Simpson experience” when he was convinced by a friend affiliated with London’s Communion music collective to add the singer/songwriter to one of the group’s U.S. showcases.

Shortly after moving to Nashville, Levine put Simpson on one of their monthly Communion shows at The Basement in Nashville, and attended. As he was walking toward the venue he heard Simpson’s baritone waft from the building.  

Photo: Andy Sapp

“I literally stopped the conversation I was having with someone I bumped into on my way in and said, ‘I have got to get in there,’” Levine told Pollstar. After the set, Levine not only approached the singer, but hopped on stage and handed him his business card — “something I’ve never done, ever, in my career … I told him who I was and what I did, and he is the reason I do what I do.”

He then texted his friend in London, who forwarded the text to Simpson manager Marc Dottore who, coincidentally, was within earshot of Levine and reading it aloud. The two introduced themselves, Simpson joined them, they met the next day in Levine’s office and made  the relationship official.

Simpson hails from Kentucky and is often compared with traditional country artists in the outlaw vein like Waylon Jennings, with a propensity for exquisite, yet subversive, storytelling. Unlike the current crop of “BroCo” artists, he’s more into the metaphysical realm than tailgating in the moonlight. 

Photo: Andy Sapp

His critically lauded second album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, was released in May, 11 months after High Top Mountain that was still generating buzz.

Simpson can’t be pigeonholed, despite some critics hailing the artist as the “savior of country music.”

“Sturgill isn’t the next anything or the savior of any particular genre of music. He’s Sturgill Simpson. He’s the genuine article, as real as it gets. His music, his voice, and the power of his live performance speak for themselves.

“Sturgill can be put on any stage in any setting,” Levine said, “and he will deliver.”

Levine and Dottore are focused on putting Simpson “in control of his own destiny, selling his own tickets” as a headliner. After a European tour, he’ll return to the U.S. in a mix of support and headliner slots, and Levine is currently building what he calls a “discovery” tour that will see him headlining larger clubs in major markets.