As the sand in the hourglass of David Letterman’s tenure as Late Show host trickles to its last grains, new artists are lucky if they even get one chance to grace the famed stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater. Sturgill Simpson, who made his debut on the program in July with “Life of Sin,” found his way back again in just under seven months. Fresh off of a Grammy nomination, he played his version of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line,” made popular in the nineties by Aaron Tippin, last night.
“Oh my God, nice going. That was fantastic, that was beautiful,” raved Letterman, a notorious country and Americana fan. Simpson and his band chugged through a tight version of the truckin’ song (think heavy load-haulers, not shiny-red joy rides), with a dynamic solo courtesy of guitarist Laur Joamets. Ever-representing their current hometown, bassist Kevin Black sported a “Boom Bap” t-shirt, in tribute to beloved hip-hop party held at East Nashville institution the Five Spot. Simpson will take another group of Five Spot regulars — Electric Western DJ’s Jacob Jones and Reno Bo — on tour in April.
Since making his Letterman debut, Simpson’s scored that Grammy nomination (Best Americana Album for Metamodern Sounds in Country Music), toured to sold-out venues and signed a major-label deal with Atlantic Records. Currently, he’s on the road with Anderson East, whose upcoming record is produced by Simpson’s right-hand man, Dave Cobb. He’ll also make heavy rounds during festival season this summer, including stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Festival.
After finishing up at the Late Show, Simpson headed to Brooklyn to play a show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. His thoughts on the Letterman performance? “Killed that,” he posted on Facebook.