I like Sturgill’s new record. I put myself in his creative shoes before listening to it. How would I follow up Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. The only option is to make something totally different. There are a few tracks that harken to past releases but for the most part he went with ‘fresh’. Incorporating horns as a tying thread, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth sounds nothing like its antecedent. The Beatles followed up Revolver with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Willie Nelson followed up Phases and Stages with Red Headed Stranger. Waylon, Lonesome On’ry and Mean with Honky Tonk Heroes.

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music with A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.

With W.B. coming in late I take care of myself for eats. I’m three Pike Place Roasts in and level the buzz with a couple Granny Smiths. My barista is finishing her afternoon duties and I’m going over the pros and cons of asking her to the concert. I’ve put myself in this position in the past, mind you copious amounts of booze won’t be involved and my decision is more leaning towards a reciprocated appreciation for the free coffee but I let her walk out the front door. Smart move.

Ashland hosts Poage Landing Days paying homage to their settlers, The Poage Family. A street carnival, food trucks, crafts market and concerts start tomorrow, set-up begins tonight. Winchester Ave is shut down with barricades as the tilt-a-whirl is erected southeast of the Paramount entrance. I walk up to the early crowd and begin to put my people study skills to work. It’s a sold out show so the prospects of finding a hopeful rogue attendee should be high. I’m choosey at first, vying for a good-timing brother. The crowd grows larger, reducing my chances of spotting a candidate. The closed avenue harbours drunkards, hippies, bikers, professionals, teens and the elderly. There’s a small bustle around a pony-tailed red head, signing a couple autographs and posing for pictures. Simpson has truly succeeded in attaining a diverse crowd. The power of a well written song. W.B. is still behind and I’m making small talk. Everybody has their ticket. The crowd is moving inside, I meander out front. Southern Barista and I would have been discussing who could have been the opening act if there was one. A gentlemen gives his tickets generously to will call requesting they be given for free to anyone looking to purchase, he can’t find a buyer either. I walk up the street and offer my freebie, its strangely declined numerous times. I recognize W.B.’s hat above the crowd – we make our way towards each other and embrace. He’s a fellow fighter, we give reverence. W.B.’s Old Soul Radio Show has introduced me the up and coming as well is the unknown staples. I’m grateful for his vision.

I accept my single ticket destiny and make my way to my balcony seating. W.B. makes his way to the second row.

I’m asked to remove my hat. Usually this makes me huffy where I egotistically rebuke with ‘are you kidding me, I’m the only cowboy at this country show’. The request was polite so I apologize for the obstruction and give my hat a seat to itself. I have a direct line of sight to W.B.’s seats. He came with fellow West Virginian songwriter Justin Payne, both sitting right up front. W.B. is chatting with a surrounding crowd, he’s obviously recognized within his community and treated accordingly. Following a conversation with an older gentleman behind him, he’s up out of his seat and walking towards the back of the room. Into the balcony seating, past me, chatting along the way. Talks to a person at the far back and returns to his seat. My phone dings with the request for me to flag him. I do so. He waves me out of my seat into the main floor isle.

“It’s your birthday Berglund, buddy behind us has an open seat. C’mon.”

Third row. I look down, BB on a golden plate in front of me. My initials saving my seat.

The old boy beside me is cool. He’s happy to have me up front. So are W.B. and Justin. The light’s go down and the crowd jumps out of their seats. Sturgill’s seven-piece rupture into “Life of Sin” following his count…Two, Three, Four 

W.B. and Justin Payne