Huskey / Howard / Sawtelle Memorial Music Scholarship Concert - Ryman Auditorium - March 17, 2000

This all-star concert, benefiting the Huskey / Howard / Sawtelle Memorial Music Scholarship Fund, was one of the most incredible musical evenings I've ever experienced in Nashville. First some background on the talented men this concert honored:

Roy Huskey, Jr. - If you're a Marty Stuart fan, then you know about Roy. He appeared in Marty's "Cry, Cry, Cry" video (playing the upright bass). Roy also played bass on Marty's "Mississippi Mudcat and Sister Sheryl Crow." Roy also performed with Marty on the Grand Ole Opry and was a premier session player as well as part of Emmylou Harris' Nash Ramblers. Roy, unfortunately, died of lung cancer in 1997 at the age of 40. Roy's wife, Lisa, co-hosted the concert, introducing the performers.

Randy Howard - Was a champion fiddle player who won just about every fiddle-playing award, including being an eight-time national champion. He was also honored as the 1999 Fiddle Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Randy was a premier session player who also recorded and released solo albums. He toured with Kathy Chiavola. In 1999, Randy passed away at the age of 38 from cancer

Charles Sawtelle - a guitarist who's unique style helped define the bluegrass sound. He was an original member of the bluegrass group Hot Rize. After the band's breakup in 1990, Charlie performed with Peter Rowan as well as performing under his own name and new band, Charles Sawtelle and the Whippets. Charlie's music received Grammy nominations and he won several awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Charlie died of leukemia in 1999 at the age of 52.

I mention their bios for several reasons. Not only were these men incredibly gifted musicians who helped shape bluegrass and country music, but they also had legions of friends and it was those friends who joined together to pay tribute to Roy, Randy and Charlie. In many cases, all three of these men had touched their lives and careers.

So even though this is a Marty Stuart concert review, I'd like to mention and thank the other performers who added to this most memorable night: John Hartford (who sings the best version of "Gentle On My Mind"), Deanie Richardson & Jeff White, Patty Loveless (who looked and sounded fabulous), Matt King, Wild & Blue, Tim O'Brien, Mel Besher, Kathy Chiavola, Cluster Pluckers, Gail Davies (I was very impressed with her music), Sam Bush, Aubrey Haynie, Sonya Isaacs (who sounds a lot like Patty Loveless), Patty Mitchell, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Sandard Time (who performed their bluegrass hit "Murder on Music Row" to thunderous applause), Lorianna Pomeroy, Jamie Hartford, Steve Earle (who looked really good and told jokes that cracked up the audience), Mike Henderson & the Bluebloods (who rocked the Ryman), and Emmylou Harris (who brought along Buddy and Julie Miller and sang like the angel she is).

Each performer sang anywhere from one to five songs. Most told of a memory of one of these great men--stories of working with them--and considering that microphone stands would suddenly collapse, it was as if their spirits were, indeed, in the house and enjoying the show.

I was in awe of the talent of these performers. I'd never heard of some of them. Some I'd heard of but had never seen perform in person. Some brought their band members and other used the "house band." There is no shortage of talent in Nashville. I do believe that the best talent passes through this town and it just amazes me how, without much (or any at all) rehearsal time, each act performed brilliantly.

Emmylou Harris (who closed the show) came out and joined several performers while they sang: Sam Bush (who was part of her Nash Rambler band). In fact, Sam brought along Jon Randall who was also part of Emmylou's band. Together they performed a song they wrote about Roy. Emmylou also joined Marty and Connie Smith on stage, as well as Steve Earle, prior to her wonderful closing set of five songs.

As far as a "review" of Marty's peformance--he wasn't on stage very long. Lisa Huskey introduced him by saying: "Next, I'd like to present, Marty Stuart. A true original. One of the greatest people who ever walked the face of the earth." He came out with a couple of the other musicians and started playing his mandolin. While picking, he said, "I saw a picture in Jack Clement's office yesterday. It was taken out at Johnny Cash's cabin in the woods. It had Anita Carter and Roy Huskey and Chet Atkins and Johnny Cash. Everybody on the front porch in happier days. Seemed like two days ago. I'm here to tell you there ain't no words to describe how much I miss Roy. There's a big ole hole in the bottom end of Nashville concerning where the bass used to be. And he left us a sweet spirit to pick on." Marty played an instrumental on the mandolin. He then invited Sam Bush to come out and pick a song with him.

Next Connie was asked to come out on stage. She came out and said, "Well, I loved Roy so very much. And losing him was not only losing him but losing his daddy all over again whom I also loved and was also on most of my records. So I'm really thankful to be here tonight." She turned to Marty and said, "I kinda like you too." Marty said, "Will you go home with me?" Connie sing "Nobody's Darlin' But Mine" and Emmylou walked out to sing harmony on the song. That was the end of Marty's set.

If you've been a fan of Marty's for a while, then you'll be happy to know that former lead guitarist, Ray Flacke, performed with Jamie Hartford and another former lead guitarist, Keith Sewell, performed with Sonya Isaacs. Always nice keeping up with former band members and what they're doing now.

Enjoyed talking with the Renfros, Karen Ross, Margie Sullivan, Leslie Anne Rawlings, Cindy Allred and Judy Trickett at the show.

Review by Sherry Mattioli
Photos by Mario Mattioli

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