“This album really started with me and my friends getting together late at night, trying to recreate that ‘70s country feel of a classic Don Williams album,” he says. “I’d bring a bottle of Irish Whiskey, we’d listen to some records, then I’d pull out a song I’d written that fit that era. We’d all play it live, two or three times, and that was it. It really started out just for fun.”
– Stephen Simmons on his latest release, Hearsay
Last night I went to Haugesund to catch a concert with the singer/songwriter Stephen Simmons. He didn’t disappoint, it was a very nice evening out. We were too few, but we were very happy with the show.
I got to have a little chat with him, what a nice guy. I taped three of the songs on my camera and Stephen Simmons said I could post them here, but first a short bio from his website (in between some pictures from the concert):
Growing up in a small town in central Tennessee, Stephen Simmons kept his radio tuned to the country station, where the sounds of Don Williams and Waylon Jennings were never more than a few tunes away. Simmons treated those songwriters like school teachers, showing Simmons how to deliver a story, turn a phrase and pack a punch. By the time he released his debut album in 2004, though, Simmons had also learned how to rock.
Years later, Simmons has a few more roots-rock albums under his belt… as well as a new one, Hearsay, that doesn’t fall into the same category. Full of old-school twang and classic storytelling, it’s the sound of an artist getting back to his roots.
I prefer his country/folk tinged stuff to his more heartland rock. Here is a first taste, the wonderful I ain’t lonely (I’m just lonesome) from the new album Hearsay:
I took a picture of the written set-list, but after one song (!) he chose songs on and off the list and not in the order on my picture, hehe. It was great. We got most of his best songs (I missed Emily’s Eyes, but maybe next time…) and we got some great covers, two Hank Willliams, a Waylon Jennings, one Danny O’Keefe and one by Bruce Springsteen.
Hard it Goes from his latest album Hearsay (sorry about the chatter, but they couldn’t ruin this fantastic tune):
Simmons told us about his life in the US and connected small anecdotes to each song. It was very entertaining and we got to know him a bit better, the stories were sometimes funny and sometimes sad (or at least serious) and all of them delivered together with a song. The lyrics became alive. He is a wonderful story-teller, be it through songs or between songs.
“I stuck to the original schedule, when the original crew was all in town and we could all get together,” he explains. “It stretched out over a year, but I knew after we’d recorded several songs that I loved the tracks and wanted to release them. To me, it felt less like an Americana album and more like the ‘70s country albums I love. These songs about winning and losing love, even in odd places like truck stop strip clubs and adult bookstores, kinda harken back to some of that era’s heartbreak songs, which were sung with a wink and a nod.”
– Stephen Simmons (about his latest album Hearsay)
Limavady Blues (from the album The Big Show, a bit shaky the first 30 seconds, sorry):
Go see him if you can!
He is on a little Norwegian tour at the moment:
Bergen Nov 21
Ringebu Nov 22 & 23
Oslo Nov 24
– Hallgeir (I also took the pictures)