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Stephen Simmons

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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. The result was Last Call, a record that had more in common with rootsy, electrified rockers like Neil Young than ‘70s crooners like Charlie Rich.

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.

“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.”

Simmons took a break halfway through the project to finish his last album, The Big Show. He hit the road after The Big Show’srelease, playing shows throughout America and Europe, hitting nine countries along the way. Those whiskey-soaked nights in Nashville were never far from his mind, though, and Simmons restarted the project as soon as he returned home. It was worth the wait.

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