Sturgill Simpson

While Sturgill Simpson was tagged as a rising star of alternative country last year after the release of his celebrated album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, the Kentucky-raised musician actually got his start over a decade ago. Simpson formed the roots band Sunday Valley in 2004, but would put the group on hiatus for several years after relocating to Nashville where the act found little outlet for their mix of raucous honky tonk and bluegrass amid the explosion of pop country. 

Simpson eventually reconvened the group in 2010 and put out the album To the Wind and on to Heaven. Despite excellent reviews and a growing fan base from festival appearances and regional touring, the band decided to call it quits in 2012. Simpson would re-emerge recording under his own name the following year with his solo debut High Top Mountain that earned rave notices with its soulful, Waylon Jennings-influenced tales of hard luck and heartbreak.

His follow-up effort Metamodern Sounds hit stores this past spring. It expanded on Simpson's traditionalist style with a significant dose of psychedelia on the expansive lead single "Turtles All the Way Down" (complete with lyrical references to mind-altering drugs LSD, psilocybin and DMT) and the backwards guitar and drum experimentation on album closer "It Ain't All Flowers." 

The album became a critical and commercial success, ending up on numerous year-ending "Best of" lists. Simpson's profile was raised even more by recent tours with Zac Brown and The Drive-By Truckers (who he opened for at the Fillmore for three nights last fall) as well as several appearances on late-night talk shows. They may just be the start of Simpson's ascension to mainstream popularity.

Simpson has stayed busy on the road since his triumphant return to the Bay last spring for a string of sold-out headlining dates including a show at the Fillmore, playing festivals and sharing stages with the likes of Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Asleep at the Wheel for an episode of the venerable music show "Austin City Limits."

Simpson also cleaned up at this year's Americana Awards in September, taking home the "Artist of the Year" award and the "Song of the Year" award for "Turtles All the Way Down." He brings his stellar band featuring guitar virtuoso Laur Joamets back to the Bay Area for this concert at the Fox Theater. Nashville-based comedian Billy Wayne Davis warms up the crowd.

Sturgill Simpson
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m. $29.50
Fox Theater