Crossroads Cafe, Huntsville, AL on February 19, 2006
I supposedly had a ticket to see Marty last Sunday night, February 19, 2006 in Huntsville, Alabama (when I got there, the reservation I had made was nowhere to be found, but that was okay -- I was sold a ticket anyway. It certainly wasn't sold out). Well, Saturday night there was ice in Huntsville, and it was forecast again for Sunday night. Close call. I checked the weather, and it was to climb all the way to 37 degrees that day, so I decided that at least it was enough to melt Saturday night's ice. I also checked Marty's tour schedule to be sure I thought he could make it to Huntsville, and it looked like he would be traveling in from Florida, and there was no ice in that direction, so off I went.
Huntsville always tries to confuse me with its "circling roads" near all the concert venues. I have been there many times, and going in is not usually a big problem, but leaving is sometimes (I got over my frustration at this one day when Mapquest or some such program told me to take a street, then U-turn back the way I needed to go. I then decided I wasn't the only one who had a problem with traveling there.). I prepared myself for the worst in terms of planning to be lost, but the map I had to the venue (Crossroads Cafe) was perfect-except the last road in to the venue had a "closed" barrier, presumably from the ice the night before and the sign just had not been removed yet? Or because there were holes in the road? It was not a good street. I thought I would just take the next street and circle around back and come in from a different direction. Remember those circling roads I talked about? It didn't happen. Before I knew it, I was back on the interstate and trying to figure out how to turn around and go back. This was not a big problem because I had arrived about thirty minutes before the Crossroads website indicated that the doors would open, and I decided to explore the circling roads of Huntsville since I was actually there in the last part of the daylight instead of late at night (my usual time there, it seems) and maybe I could see what was going on and figure out the maze once and for all. After all that, I got back to a "road closed" barrier and just decided to take the road anyway and see what would happen. It looked passable, after all, just bumpy.
Success that time, as I found the venue and a bus parked in back and about two other cars kind of circling around, too. Not a good sign, I thought, for a place that should be open by now. Me and two other cars? Big crowd. Anyway, I parked and went in, to talk to a girl who told me the doors were NOT open yet (website error) and it would be another hour, and her grandfather had talked his way in to visit the restroom. I decided to do the same thing since no one else seemed to be around to stop me. Then those two people left, and I decided that leaving to do nothing for an hour was stupid. It was now dark and cold outside, and the website had said that doors would be open by now. A man finally came along who gave me permission to stand near the restroom rather than sitting in the cold car. That meant I listened to sound check for the opening act. What opening act? First I'd heard of it. But they were pretty good -- one of the two was excellent on acoustic guitar, and (I assume -- same last names and looked similar) his brother did the singing. During sound check I had heard discussion among the management that the opening act would sing from 7:45 until 8:20. This was not making me very happy since it was advertised as Marty performing at 8:00, and I had to drive about thirty miles south of Birmingham when it was over and get up at 5:45 the next a.m. to get ready for work. But I was there, and there was nothing I could do about it. Well, they did indeed quit about 8:15, so I was hopeful for Marty starting at 8:30. Wrong again. Someone in the "crowd" finally said that Marty's contract was for him to play from 9 until 11.
Now about that crowd. At that point I'd counted about forty people. I was feeling real bad for Marty and the Superlatives, and didn't know it if was lack of advertising, the venue, the weather, or what was the problem, but I also knew Marty would get paid and that if I was going to feel bad, it should be for the guy who lost money on the show. Anyway, I shouldn't have worried much about the singers. The guys finally came out a little after 9 (and when is the last time I get to see a whole two-hour show? It's been a while. So that part was good.), Marty pointed out how the weather had apparently kept a lot of people at home, said that we who did make it were loud and we'd get a good show, etc., and away it went. He kept his word, although by this point when I turned around to look there were about five whole "rows" of us crammed up by the stage. By the way, I should mention this had been sold as "standing room only," and any form of seating had been removed. The only thing still left in the venue was the bar and the little place partitioned off as the control booth. During the openers, several people had just gone down and sat on the floor in front of the stage, and I took my spot there, too, pretty much right in front of Brian. White jeans on cold concrete, and all. I Cloroxed those the next day. We all got up and stood for Marty's show, and it deserved that. He seemed in very good spirits despite the lack of a crowd and seemed to enjoy the ambiance created by the small group. More intimate than usual. He joked around with several people in the "crowd" several times and mentioned various people who were there over the course of the night.
I grabbed a set list when it was over, and some changes were made, but as best as I remember, with the help of the list, this was the show:
YOU KNOW IT AIN'T RIGHT
Encore (even for a "crowd" of 50 or so, but we were enthusiastic) brought out the mandolin, and I don't remember everything, but I know he started with DIXIE, something else (maybe two) instrumental, then Harry sang WORKING ON A BUILDING, and I knew it was over when they started the bluegrass version of HILLBILLY ROCK.
With that small crowd, I did see a few "hard cores" that I recognized from other shows, but I'm not going to start with names because I don't know them all and I don't want to leave out anyone. But there were at least three others I recognized, with some friends and family along. Other people were either "regular fans" or didn't have a clue who or what they were seeing, because one man for a fact saw my Marty Stuart sweatshirt and said he was asking me because he assumed I'd know, "What does he sing?" I figured that if he recognized anything I could possibly say it would be "Hillbilly Rock", so that's what I said, and he said he knew it. He seemed to have a good time. He was behind me during the show.
Given the late hour finishing, my long drive, and my early rising the next a.m., I did not stay for autographs, even though I could have been probably third or fourth in line. I know it was stupid, and I really wanted to thank everybody for the awesome show especially under the bad circumstances, but I needed to leave Huntsville before the roads iced over again, and as it was I was after 1 a.m. getting in bed. That alarm clock the next morning sure did come fast!
I'm looking forward to my next show, probably in May in Monticello, MS (I should get to break out the shorts for that one, not the long johns and coat!), and thoroughly enjoying the new music and variety in the show, although it does means that some of the old familiar favorites are having to be skipped. I guess you can't have it all!
I also meant to mention that "The Gov" seems to be gone. He didn't come out to bring Marty on, nor was he at the t-shirt table. I'm sure I'll think of more, but I've gone three pages already, so I'll try to stop now!
Review by Bess Wilson
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