Grand Ole Opry - Nashville, TN on May 8, 1999

It is always a treat when Marty and the Rock and Roll Cowboys perform on the Grand Ole Opry. Forget the fact that each performer on the Opry only gets to perform one, two, or three songs. Just watching the performs greet each other off-stage, the hugs, the smiles, the warm welcomes -- and you know this is truly a unique family. Mario and I witness this each and every time we're there. You can't pass an Opry member in the hallway without getting a smile and a "hi, how are ya?"

Marty and the band were scheduled to perform on the 8:30 p.m. segment, so the band didn't start arriving until around 8. Two other great voices in country music were on the bill -- Doug Stone and Ricky Van Shelton -- so I stood side-stage to watch them perform. Doug Stone had dressing room #1 which is the only one you can see from the Green Room. I didn't see Marty arrive.

Gary came into the Green Room and walked over and sat down to talk with us. He talked about how they've been working on a new show. He enjoys their week at Sparks and told us of all the different things there are to do out there. I asked if he was on the Internet and he said "no." I mentioned the new video and he asked when it was to air. I told him if he had Internet access, he could check out the website and it's right there. He says "I know. The guys rave about it." He then had to go and tune the steel guitar.

We saw Steve rush down the hall. It was getting close to time to head out front. As we walked out, Steve came rushing back carrying his new outfit in a garment bag and saying he was running late and needed to change. We said "hi" to Randy as we went through the door side-stage.

Fan club member Cindy Allred made the 200-mile trip from Alabama to the Opry. She travels extensively to see Marty (as do some other faithful Marty followers). She was decked out in a Marty Stuart t-shirt! Unfortunately, Marty wasn't scheduled to perform until the end of the segment but the time passes quickly.

Marty and the band were introduced by Johnny Russell. Marty wished all the mothers a "Happy Mother's Day. They performed the new single, "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs." Johnny Russell asked Marty to perform another song and they did "Hillbilly Rock." All too soon it ended. (Remember, I just said that time passes quickly???).

We came back to the side-stage area and Marty was signing autographs for those who had gathered. Mario and I stood and talked with Steve. Gregg came up and I asked if Jodee was around -- I had hoped to chat with her. The Arnolds and Stockis wanted to get dinner and Steve wanted to change out of that beautiful velvet suit. Gregg was content to be seen in his attire. Marty had long gone into the dressing room but I spotted Jodee and Steve's wife, Debbie, in the hallway. Spent a few minutes chatting with Jodee before they all left to eat.

We also spotted Larry Hill who's a photographer. He's at the Opry all the time and his photographs of Marty and Connie have graced the pages of Country Weekly. In fact, he photographed the fan club party last year. He is quite proud of that photograph he took of Marty throwing the ball trying to dunk Mike. The hallway is getting crowded, so I move down to the trash can (they are easy to lean on and most folks avoid them like the plague).

Jeannie Seely is in the hallway talking when Marty comes out of the dressing room. He and Jeannie are neighbors (and actually were without electricity for a couple of days after the bad storms came through Nashville last week). Doug Stone came walking down the hall and joined them. Larry and Mario were busy snapping photos and Marty, Jeannie and Doug were posing for them. Mike Copelin was nowhere to be seen, so Marty was left on his own to get to and from the stage and dealing with the fans. (One of the more comical times was when Spike thought Marty was following him to the stage area. We saw Marty turn around and walk back down the hall, but Spike is still walking and talking as if Marty were right behind him. When Spike realized Marty was not directly behind him, he comes back down the hall, muttering to himself, trying to find Marty. Mario and I point "he went that-a-way."

I had printed out a page from's website. Each week they list the new single releases, put the audio of the entire song on the site, and ask the fans to rate the songs from 1 to 10 (ten being "The Best). Marty's new single had been going back and forth between #1 and #2 (with Paul Brandt). It was currently #1 and I thought Marty ought to see that. I wasn't anywhere near Marty, but Mario walked up to him when the opportunity presented itself and handed it to him. Miraculously, the crowd parted and I could get over to Marty because I hear him say "what's this? Is this off the Internet or something?" So I have to explain it all to him. He says "that's cool." I know it's not the official charts, but I can't even stack the votes for him, so I really think those visiting the website are finding that Marty's song is the best of the lot.

Mario snapped a photo me of and Marty -- actually two of them but Marty wasn't looking at the camera for the first one. I figured I might get a new picture for my Welcome Page, but I look a mess (I really do need to put some blonde in my hair) and I'm draped all over Marty, so it looks like it needs to go on this page for the time being!!! (Maybe at the Fan Club Party.) By the way, I had someone come up to me and ask if I was Connie. I'm still trying to figure out if she meant Connie as in Marty's wife or some other Connie. As you can see, I certainly can't be mistaken for Connie Smith -- Mrs. Marty Stuart. If, on a scale from 1 to 10, Connie's a 10, I'm about a -2. But I got a chuckle out of it. By the way, Marty's holding the paper from

There were others that wanted to chat with Marty so Mario and I went and sat down in the Green Room. Mario kept getting up to go down the hall and see if Marty was there. Actually, Marty had gone to the next dressing room where a couple of Opry members were jamming and Marty sat down in the chair and just watched and listened. Marty spent several minutes in there until they had to go on stage. Marty looked like he was having the time of his life.

Mario and I went side-stage again to watch some of the second show. We watched Ricky Van Shelton and Terri Clark -- both were terrific. Mario made the remark that Marty might be out in the hallway, so we walk back and, sure enough, he's still standing out there signing autographs and talking. Not too many people were around at that time. The artists (and their fans) start leaving after their appearance on the second show, so the crowd thins out quickly. This photo shows Marty just hanging out in the hallway.

Gary came back into the Green Room. He said he'd gone home between shows. He sat down again and we talked about steel guitars. Leon Rhodes (former Texas Troubadour and now Opry staff band member) asked Gary what they were performing on the second show. Leon wanted to sit in. Gary told him they were doing "Dark As A Dungeon" (Leon starts singing the song). Gary said they were also doing a new song but didn't mention the name of it. Johnny Russell came walking down the hall and said he was changing the show. Marty was scheduled to perform in the middle of the 11:30 segment but Johnny wanted Marty on last

Mario and I decided to stay backstage for Marty's performance on the second show. You get great pictures of the backs of their heads! We went to the opposite side from where Marty and the band usually appear, but Steve and Gary were over there. Mario wanted to snap a picture of me and Steve. Then we stood there talking about Steve's new guitar. It sounds really great but Steve will have to return it so they can put the inlays in there to match Marty's. I mentioned Sparks and asked if they had to share the stage with those elephants again and Steve mentioned how he loved animals, so we got on the subject of birds (which we both love to feed and watch). He and Gary were getting ready to go out on stage and I told Steve that I thought they'd been moved to last on the segment. They had! We could see Marty across the stage waiting to go on.

Johnny Russell brought Marty and the band on stage and they shared a joke (about a dog that Johnny sold to Marty -- a Doberman). Steve had mentioned they were performing "Sometimes The Pleasure's Worth The Pain" which I call an updated version of "Tempted." Marty said he wanted to rock the house. It certainly is a rockin' song. Then they performed "Dark As A Dungeon" the same hauntingly way they performed it in Metropolis. Marty stops playing the mandolin halfway through the song and the emotion of the song pours out through his arms. The picture below really shows this.

Johnny Russell mentioned that since the boss had gone home, he could do anything he wanted to with the show, so he asked Marty to perform another song. The Opry was running over, but Marty sang "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs" and closed out the show with an instrumental of "Act Naturally." The curtain came down, the lights went on and the Grand Ole Opry was history for another week. We walked back out with Marty behind us. We stopped at the dressing room door. I got one final hug from Marty and said "goodnight."

It was wonderful seeing Marty and the band again. It affords us the chance to talk with the band and crew and exchange a few words with Marty. We also get the opportunity to see and talk with the great legends of country music. Everyone, from the performers to the employees at the Opry, makes you feel at home. Below are more pictures that wouldn't fit in this review

Review by Sherry Mattioli
Photos by Mario Mattioli

Marty & Johnny Russell Something you don't see
very often--Gregg's back

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