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Simpson takes aim at ACMs, mainstream country

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 – Sturgill Simpson knocked the mainstream country labels in a Facebook post on Tuesday, lamenting that they tried to show their connection to the late Merle Haggard despite what Simpson said was Nashville's disregard for The Hag.

The Academy of Country Music is honoring Miranda Lambert with the first Merle Haggard Spirit Award. In a follow-up Facebook post on Tuesday, Simpson said he made it clear that he was not taking dead aim at Lambert, who once handed an award to Haggard.

Simpson, who has attracted much critical praise, but not from the mainstream country community, also said he was packing his bags and leaving Nashville. Simpson released "A Sailor's Guide to Earth" last year to much positive press, although the album lacked the hard core country sounds of his previous releases. He talked on being blackballed by Nashville, but said he did not care.

"Many years back, much like Willie and Waylon had years before, Merle Haggard said, "Fuck this town. I'm moving." and he left Nashville," Simpson wrote. "According to my sources, it was right after a record executive told him that 'Kern River' was a bad song. In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn't call, play, or touch him. He felt forgotten and tossed aside. I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit..one last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it. Yet it never came. And now he's gone."

"Im (sic) writing this because I want to go on record and say I find it utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to his name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them. If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bullshit they've been pumping down rural America's throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bullshit and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music."

Simpson said he got together with Haggard last fall at his house in Redding, Cal. for a joint cover story in Garden & Guns magazine.

"But then at the last minute, the magazine's editor put Chris Stapleton on the cover without telling anyone until they had already gone to print. Don't get me wrong, Chris had a great year and deserves a million magazine covers...but thats (sic) not the point."

"Its (sic) about keeping your word and ethics," Simpson wrote. "Chris also knows this as he called me personally to express his disgust at the situation. Dude's a class act."

"The editor later claimed in a completely bullshit email apology to both Merle's publicist and ours (Chris and I share the same publicist) that they didn't get any good shots that day," Simpson claimed.

"David McClister."

2 hour shoot."

no good photos."

OK buddy,..whatever you say."

Anyway, Merle passed away right after it came out."

Garden & Guns magazine could not be reached for comment.

After the news came out about Lambert's award, Simpson made it clear he was not going after Lambert. "Before people start chasing clickbait by putting words in my mouth, I feel the need to clarify that I was not aware of this at the time of my original post, and my words were in no way directed at her. I know that Merle liked and respected her so it's good to see there is at least some blue sky in all of this."

"I don't know Miranda nor have I ever met her, but something tells me that in her heart, she knows I'm dead on. I am also aware that the ACM is a West Coast organization originally created to recognize West Coast artists like Merle and they have handed Merle many trophies over the years,..even in the last 15 or so mind you. It's also worth noting that the last one was handed to him by none other than Miranda Lambert herself."

"But all of this is irrelevant as none of it has anything to do with the original point I was trying to make. My point was that all of these organizations don't walk it like they talk it. I called The ACM out directly because they are simply the latest in a long line of organizations that have done the same since Merle's death...and even before. Showing homage and handing lifetime achievement awards to the greats of yesterday while claiming to uphold and hold dear the original values and integrity of Country music's legacy. Yet these are just hollow words...merely empty semantics. One needs only to look glancingly at the majority of the music that they, along with the CMA's, predominantly choose to recognize and promote at their award shows.":

"I fully realize that as I type this, meetings and conversations are taking place on music (sic) Row to ensure I am blackballed from the industry and that's perfectly fine with me. Im (sic) not sure how you can blackball somebody you don't acknowledge in the first place anyway. Yet, even though they mostly go out of their way to ignore artists like myself and Jason Isbell, I assure you they are more than aware of our existence. They are also well aware that we don't need them. Our last albums went to #1 without any help from the Mainstream Country Music establishment...and our next albums will too. With that said, I have no more need to make enemies with these people than I have a need to be their friends. If anything I'm trying to help them. Because more and more everyday, people are waking up to the situation and they are pissed. Perhaps Country Music, especially Nashville, should wake up too before it's too late."

"I should also go ahead and add here that whether or not I am nominated for a CMA award this year, I will not be attending the ceremony for no other reason than the fact I already have a sold out show scheduled in Des Moines, Iowa on the night of the awards ceremony and I have no plans to change that."

The award nominations will be announced on Wednesday.

"Mostly though, I just wish Merle was still alive," Simpson said. "I'd love for them to all hear his thoughts on the matter."

"P.S. Fuck this town. I'm moving."

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The first time you hear Sturgill sing you may feel like you've heard a ghost - the ghost of Waylon Jennings, that is. Although his voice isn't as low as Jennings' was, it's nevertheless still in the same general vocal range ballpark. Better still, the Kentucky native sings wonderfully honest country songs. "Life of Sin," for instance, is a song about, well, sinning, which is really some of what great country is all about. Yes, most of this album will do a »»»
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There's not a whole lot of traditional troubadours around these days. Old school may still be appreciated, but when it comes to country crossovers and reaching the masses, it's roots rock, alt.-country and Americana that hold the upper hand. Which makes it surprising in a way that newcomer Sturgill Simpson should sound like such a, well, old-timer. Hell, even his name resembles the kind of handle aptly suited to a country crooner. It's little wonder then that his debut disc, »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
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