David Ferguson’s name comes up quite frequently when one starts to dig into who’s behind Nashville’s most revered recordings of the last 40 years. A Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, studio owner, video game soundtrack composer, and collaborator with the likes of Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Sturgill Simpson , there’s one thing Ferguson has never been called up until now; a recording artist. That’s all about to change with his upcoming, star-studded release on Fat Possum Records, Nashville No More. Out September 3rd, Nashville No More finds Ferguson—better known around town as “Fergie”—exiting the control room and entering the spotlight with a self-produced, ten-song collection that will erase any doubt about his lack of history as the name on the marquee. This is no greenhorn debut album, but a long-marinated and much-awaited reveal of a warm and familiar voice of a generation. Today, fans were treated to the first track from Nashville No More, the sweet fiddle and steel waltz of “Knocking Around Nashville.” The Pat McLaughlin-penned song has swirled around in Ferguson’s mind for a couple of decades now. “I’ve known this song since I recorded the first demo on it in the mid-90s,” he says. After his famed studio The Butcher Shoppe closed in 2020 when the entire property was sold, the weight of the song grew in Ferguson. “It just seems to become more relevant with every day that passes.” Fans can hear “Knocking Around Nashville” now at this link and can pre-order or pre-save Nashville No More ahead of its September 3rd release right here.
The company Ferguson keeps on Nashville No More speaks much more highly of him than written words in promo materials can. Bluegrass power couple Sierra Hull and Justin Moses lend their voice and instrumental prowess to album closer “Hard Times Come Again No More” and reigning Americana queen Margo Price jumps in on the country-meets-bossa nova feel of “Chardonnay.” But it keeps going beyond those featured tracks—the entirety of Nashville No More’s roster is A-lister after A-lister. Bluegrass fans will easily pick out the playing of Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck, Ronnie McCoury , and Tim O’Brien, to name a few, and the more guitar-minded will catch the six-string picking and strumming of Dan Auerbach, Mark Howard, Billy Sanford, and Kenny Vaughan. Add in Nashville studio greats like Russ Pahl on pedal steel, Sam Bacco on percussion, Mike Rojas on keyboards, and Mike Bub and Dave Roe on bass, and the end result is a mutual admiration society of taste and respect not equaled in most Nashville recordings of today. All of those instruments and all of those people are in turn enveloped by Ferguson’s resonant baritone singing his favorite songs and the results are breathtaking.
“I’m so used to doing something and then moving on to the next thing, but I think it’s going to be neat to have a record come out,” Ferguson says before joking, “I’ll give it to my mom, let her see what she thinks about it.” Though he states that his reasoning behind making this record was to “pass time during the pandemic,” it ended up being an exhibition on everything he’s learned in his decades of recording experience; dialing in the tones, aligning the players, and now, singing the songs. Honestly and humbly he admits, “The hardest thing to do is doing a record on yourself. You’ve got to learn how to listen to it like you’re listening to somebody else. Man, that takes gumption.” Gumption, sure, but being the living breathing legend David Ferguson certainly helps.