Late Night Jam, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN on June 8, 2005

On the night of June 8th, I attended my 4th Late Night Jam and I do believe it was the best one yet. Whether acting as host, performing with his Fabulous Superlatives, or jamming with one of the guests, Marty thoroughly enjoyed himself from beginning to end.

Jim Hill got things started by throwing out t-shirts, chatting with the crowd and encouraging everyone to stay for the meet and greet after the show. He then introduced Marty and his Fabulous Superlatives, who jumped right into 'Now That's Country." Next came "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' " and I expected to see Travis walk out and join him for that, but I guess Mr. Tritt wasn't in the mood to jam at the Ryman after taping CMT's 100 Greatest Duets with Marty earlier in the evening. It obviously didn't matter to Marty, who had fun with it all by himself!

After "Whiskey," Marty introduced each of the Superlatives and then they did "Country Boy Rock and Roll" which is a song he's recently added to his set list and seems to enjoy doing. Marty was having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction and kept trying to adjust the button of his shirt sleeve through his jacket. One lady in the audience invited him to "Take it off!!" Marty laughed and replied "Take it off? Okay!" He took his jacket off and naturally invited the audience member to do the same.

They slowed things down for "Homesick," then had everyone clapping along to the infectious beat of "Tempted" which is always a crowd favorite. Marty told us about a new gospel album Souls' Chapel, which is coming out at the end of August. He said it's full of "Delta gospel," the kind he grew up singing in Mississippi. He is obviously very proud of Souls' Chapel. One of his favorite songs on the new album is "Slow Train" and, as usual, drummer Harry Stinson did a wonderful job singing lead on the song.

Marty told the audience that the first album he ever owned was Flatt & Scruggs Greatest Hits. The second was The Fabulous Johnny Cash. He said, "The only two jobs I've ever had were with Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash." He also told the story about seeing Connie in concert when he was 12 and telling his mom on the way home that he was going to marry her. He added, "I worked with Lester and Johnny and I married the girl I love. Believe in your dreams. Dreams come true." He then introduced Earl Scruggs, who received a standing ovation. Earl brought along his son Randy and master fiddler Stuart Duncan and they all joined Marty on "Cry, Cry, Cry."

Encouraging the audience to stand and sing along, they ripped through "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." It was impossible to tell who was having more fun -- those of us listening or those performing! Stuart and Earl showed off a little on "Orange Blossom Special" and then Randy sang a beautiful song he he wrote with Johnny Cash called "Passin' Through." Earl ended their segment of the show by doing an incredible version of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which had the audience on it's feet again. The man still has it when it comes to playing banjo.

Marty's next guest was Holly Williams, who is the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. Holly writes all of her own songs and some of the lyrics remind me of Rosanne Cash at her deepest. She has a really good voice. She sang "I'll Only Break Your Heart," "Between Your Lines," "Sometimes," and "Would You Have Fallen." Marty then joined her on stage and played mandolin while they sang "I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry." You could hear a pin drop in the Ryman while they sang.

Marty surprised us by bringing out Raul Malo of The Mavericks to sing a couple of songs. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, he sang a new song he wrote called "Just Because" and then did the classic Patsy Cline hit, "Sweet Dreams." His version was awesome and he got a well deserved standing ovation.

It took a few minutes to get the equipment changed before the next guest, so Marty encouraged us to "talk among yourselves" for a few minutes. Marty came back to the microphone and started talking about Shooter Jennings, saying "His Mama's name is Jessi, his Daddy's name was Waymore....I've known him a long time and I'm proud of him." He then brought Jessi Colter out to introduce her son. Shooter started with "Let's Put the O Back in Country" which is the name of his debut album. He isn't his Daddy and sometimes his metal roots show through, but Shooter Jennings rocked the Ryman and put on a great show. Next came "Solid Country Gold," (the unedited version! LOL) a really impressive job on the Waylon classic "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" and "Southern Comfort." Shooter and his band 357 ended their set with his current single "4th of July" which he dedicated to his "lady" who was sitting just off stage. This is a really great song and I hope it does well for him.

When things calmed down a bit after Shooter, Marty brought MusiCares reps Debby Carroll and Tony Conway out and presented them with a check for over $21,000. MusiCares is the charity the Late Night Jam benefits. It provides support to those in the music business who may find themselves in need of financial assistance.

Part of the fun at the Late Night Jam is watching what goes on off stage. I saw Jennifer Stuart dancing around, Marty and Connie hugging on each other, Connie and Jessi laughing and talking like school girls, the Vice Mayor of Nashville milling around, talking to everyone. There's a whole other show going on back there!

As the Fabulous Superlatives again joined Marty on stage, he mentioned that CMT was filming portions of the show to be included in a documentary they are doing on the album Badlands, which will be released early next year. He said they would be going to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to film a concert within the next couple of weeks and told us a little about how much that area means to him. Before singing "Trip to Big Horn," a new song he wrote for the album, he said "General Custer got what he deserved."

After telling us we were going to hear the song "Farmer's Blues" "the way it was meant to be sung" Marty brought out his wife, the always lovely Connie Smith. After sharing a kiss and a "Hi, baby" Marty teased Connie, saying "I love keeping you up late at night!" In the past, they have always done this song as a duet, so it was quite different hearing Connie do it alone. Of course, Connie couldn't sing anything badly, so her solo rendition was wonderful. As Connie left the stage, Marty grinned and said "I love her! I love her with all my heart!"

Due to illness, Miranda Lambert was unable to perform, so Marty said he went out to the alleyway and found someone to fill in. He introduced Jessi Alexander, who did "I Wanna Believe" and "I'm Not Lisa" She told the audience she was named for Jessi Colter and to do that song in Jessi Colter's presence was "overwhelming." She did a great job and the Fabulous Superlatives provided excellent back-up.

Dierks Bentley came out next and he was very much a crowd favorite. He performed his hit single "How Am I doin'?" and then did a new song, "Come a Little Closer" while Marty and Connie snuggled up together off stage. Marty then joined Dierks and teased him a little about some of the lyrics to the new song. He had his mandolin with him and Dierks asked "Don't you have enough money to buy a new mandolin?" Marty told the story of Johnny Cash scratching a big cross on his new mandolin so Marty would "never forget the Lord." Dierks got a kick out of that. Together, they did "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do," a song whose lyrics could have been written for Marty Stuart. After some major tuning issues with the electric guitar (which Marty blamed on Keith Urban), they did an impressive cover of "Doin' My Time."

Marty asked everyone who was still hanging around to come back out on stage. He got Jessi Colter to sing "I'm Not Lisa" which brought tears to Jessi Alexander's eyes. Marty and the guys traded lead on "The Weight" with Connie, Jessi, Shooter, Jessi and Dierks providing background vocals. That seems to be Marty's encore song this year and I love them to do it. They closed the show around 2 a.m. with "Amen."

There was a large crowd waiting for the meet and greet, but the line moved quickly. The Ryman staff was understandably in a hurry to get everyone out, so they kept things moving along. Marty and Connie still took the time to chat with fans and sign pictures, shirts, CD's and whatever else the fans had.

We hung out in the parking lot for a few minutes after we left the Ryman and soon out came Mr. and Mrs. Stuart. They took a few more minutes to pose for pictures and sign a few things before reaching their cars. Connie blew Marty a kiss before she got in her car and Marty asked "You gonna drive yourself home?" Then, with a wave to the crowd, he got in the black Caddy and headed out into the Nashville night......or maybe I should say early morning!

Review by Judy Simonton, Lawrenceville, GA

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