Formerly the leader of Sunday Valley, an energetic roots outfit that made some waves in the early years of the new millennium, Sturgill Simpson gained greater renown as a solo artist, thanks in large part to his muscular 2013 solo debut High Top Mountain. An outlaw country record in form and feel -- its debt to Waylon Jennings clear and unashamed -- High Top Mountain became a word-of-mouth hit in 2013, thereby establishing Simpson's country credentials and opening the door to a wider future.
A native of Jackson, Kentucky and raised near Lexington, Simpson has deep southern roots, but he moved out west once he reached his late teens. In 2004, he formed Sunday Valley, receiving a big break when they played Portland, Oregon's Pickathon Festival in 2011. Sturgill went solo in 2012, beginning work on the album that became High Top Mountain, which appeared the following year.