Sturgill Simpson is entering a new chapter in the evolution of his live show: On Saturday (March 4), the Americana rocker debuted a stripped-down setup at a performance in Florida, saying goodbye to his touring horns section, as well as to his longtime guitarist, Laur Joamets.

For nearly four years, Joamets has been a staple in Simpson's band. As Simpson's lead electric and steel guitarist, the Estonian musician helped craft Simpson's breakout album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, released in 2014, as well as the artist's Grammys-winning A Sailor's Guide to Earth, released in 2016.

"We're all very sad to say that after nearly four years Laur Joamets has decided it's time to move on to pursue greener pastures and a gig with little more wiggle room for him to stretch out," Simpson writes on Facebook. "It's been a pleasure and an honor watching him grow into one of the baddest guitar players on the planet and everyone in the band wishes him the best in his future endeavors."

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With Joamets out of the picture, Simpson will take on lead guitar parts -- and he's excited about the change.

"I realized [on Saturday night] how much I've missed playing electric guitar without even knowing it, so I guess as they say, 'it was time,'" Simpson says, adding that he's decided it's also time to "move on from the sonic template" of A Sailor's Guide to Earth and "get started on 'what's next.'"

"What's next" also means the end of Simpson's touring run with New Orleans horn players Brad Walker, Jon Ramm and Scott Frock. The "horns boys," as Simpson calls them, have toured with the singer-songwriter in support of A Sailor's Guide to Earth.

"We all had a wonderful year with them and made some great friends for life," says Simpson, hinting that the horns may not be gone forever: "Who knows ... maybe I'll get an itching for the dirty brass again down the road."

Simpson concludes his Facebook post by noting that he's excited to keep his band "lean & mean," with drummer Miles Miller, bassist Chuck Bartels and keyboardist Bobby Emmett rounding out the lineup.

"After all," he says, "heavy times calls for heavy music."

Simpson is set to hit the road in May for a string of tour dates, including a stop at the Forecastle Festival in his native Kentucky.

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