Sturgill Simpson Protests the CMAs by Playing Outside the Arena With His Grammy

While countless country music superstars performed onstage inside the Bridgestone Arena at the 51st annual Country Music Awards, Sturgill Simpson set up a humble camp outside the Nashville arena, busking for a small group of fans — with his Grammy in tow.

Simpson played songs right outside the entrance and live-streamed the mini performance on Facebook. He also set up two signs in front of his guitar case:

" 'Struggling' country singer. Anything helps. (All donations go to the ACLU.) God Bless America," one sign read.

"I don't take requests, but I take questions about anything you want to talk about because fascism sucks," another sign read.

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As he started to play, Simpson proclaimed, "I've finally made it, guys! The big show. They were all out of seats. I couldn't get a ticket."

After talking about various topics for about 20 minutes, his first fan showed up and requested "Turtles All the Way Down."

The 39-year-old country music singer and songwriter won a Grammy for Best Country Album this year, but he's never been nominated for a CMA Award. He's taken shots at the establishment in the past and has said that if he's "blackballed" from the industry, "that's perfectly fine with me."

In between songs, Sturgill would answer questions from his modest audience. When one fan asked what he'd say in a hypothetical CMA acceptance speech, he hit many key points.

"Nobody needs a machine gun, coming from a guy who owns quite a few guns. Gay people should have the right to be happy, and live their life any way they want to, and get married if they want to without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck. Black people are probably tired of getting shot in the streets and being enslaved by the prison industrial complex. Hegemony and fascism is alive and well in Nashville, Tennessee. Thank you very much," he said.

At the end of the night, he declared his experiment successful after checking his guitar case: "Well, we made 13 bucks for the ACLU tonight, so it was all worth it."


Nashville radio host Bobby Bones applauded Simpson's "troll game," calling the protest "so funny."

Photo Credit: Getty / NBC / Contributor