Sam's Place - Ryman Auditorium - Nashville, TN on November 14, 1999

Marty and the Rock and Roll Cowboys joined host Gary Chapman and guests Wayne Hall & Murphy and Sara Evans for a Sunday evening of song at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The musical series Sam's Place was celebrating its fifth anniversary. It was only fitting that Marty appear on this show since he also appeared on the inaugural show in 1994.

The evening started with a trio Wayne Hall & Murphy. What incredible harmonies they displayed. Sara Evans was next and she has an outstanding voice. She even brought her 4-month old son out to show the audience. He was sleeping. She says to him, "you're on the Ryman stage....." and that made no difference at all.

While setting up for Marty and the boys, Gary Chapman invited audience members to come up an show their stuff. A young girl came up to do an impression of a boy and girl kissing, another girl came up and told three blonde jokes, two other sweet little gals brought their batons and tried to teach Gary some majorette moves. Gary proved he has what it takes. A young boy told a joke and then "Elvis" brought down the house. The Rock and Roll Cowboys were all set up and played "Blue Suede Shoes" while "Elvis" gyrated and sang. Gary Chapman was dancing around trying to get those moves down as well.

It all led in very well to Marty being introduced by Gary. "This guy is so great. He has such a pure heart. He does such a good job and lets you see it. He's my friend. And he was here for the very first Sam's Place as much as a favor as anything else. And he got us started out right. He has such a reverence and honor for the tradition of country music and, onstage and off stage, he represents it well. He's an amazing player, great writer, great singer and he's got just the coolest hair. I love his hair. I want his hair. Come out here (to Marty) and I want you to meet Marty. Marty Stuart....."

Marty came out and said, "There goes a good man, right there. Thank you Gary. Wow. It's good to be home at the Ryman. This is home for me. You know the first time Elvis came here, they wouldn't let him on stage. That's right. Elvis came and auditioned for this joint. Somebody made a bad mistake. He wasn't country enough they said. Well, he's back. We'll do this one for Elvis." Marty sang "I'm Still Here."

Marty continued, "I was raised up yonder in a little town in Mississippi called Philadelphia, Mississippi. And right back behind my house we had the train tracks. And I fell in love with the sound of a train really early on in my life. Matter of fact, I've never lived in a house that I didn't hear a train go by. And I fell in love with those guys down on the train. They used to stop the train behind my house and break off the front half and go over to this factory where my daddy worked and pick up a load of steel and come back to the train and run off to north Mississippi to drop it. One day when the train was stopped, I went down there, I met the guy that worked on the caboose. He gave us pencils that said 'GM&O Railroad.' He gave us some flairs. We blamed that on the preacher's kids."

"An interesting fellow was Bill Davis and one day there was a character that was in a boxcar kinda stretching himself out in a box car. He wore really strange clothes and had weird hair and he told really cool stories about going to great exotic places like Alabama and Arkansas. I said 'what are you' and he said 'I'm a hobo.' I said, 'that's it.' I went home and made the announcement I found out what I'm gonna do with my life. I'm going to be a hobo. I got weird hair, I got strange clothes, I traveled to Alabama and Arkansas, ladies and gentlemen, I made it. The thing I found out about it though. Hobos don't just ride in trains. They ride in fancy cars, they walk. Reason they are out there running is because they're hurtin for some reason. So if you're hurtin tonight or know somebody that's hurtin', got a tune for you. It's off from our latest record called 'The Pilgrim.' It's a song called Hobo's Prayer."

Marty then introduce the band.

"You look right behind you, it says 'Confederate Gallery 1897.' What that's all about is this is where some of the old Confederate had a reunion after the Civil War. Many of you Nashville folks know that this building almost went down to the wrecking ball. And a lot of us jumped up and down. She's saved. She rededicated her life to the Lord and here we are tonight. But the thing about it is, I've traveled all over the world, 28 years now. Started when I was 12 years old. It's been a fascinating experience. And I have my opinion. The South is the place to be. I love the South. They put the building back up and saved the building. Almost had to leave that sign down. Some didn't want that sign up there. I'm glad it happened. It's our heritage. It's okay. I tell you if they ever take "Dixie" out of the books, which I hope they never do, Tom Petty wrote a song that'll slide in and take up for it. It's called 'Southern Accent' for all you southern children."

"When I first started out, I stared out with a Pentecostal gospel bluegrass band and it don't get no more wildcat than that. We played on all the backroads churches in the south and Louisiana. Alabama, Mississippi and every now and then we'd venture out and come up into Tennessee. And it was with a great group called The Sullivan Family Gospel Singers and the spark of the Sullivans is here tonight. My favorite singer, Miss Tammy Sullivan. Hello Tammy. Me and your Daddy wrote this song. This song means a lot to me. One of those good back woods church house rockers It's called 'He Called My Name'." Marty sang lead and Tammy sang background vocals.

"I tell you, I got to thinking about the millennium coming and all that stuff. Boy, this is it. It's over. This century is over, man. But I got to thinking, change ain't nothin' new to God. God's got us under control and I totally trust him with whatever he's got in mind for me. I'm good with that. And I wrote this song that I really thought was my song. But after I heard Tammy sing it one time, I knew it wasn't my song. It was her song."

Then he turned the microphone over to Tammy. She said, "This is a song Marty sung one day. He asked me to come by and help him do something to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. He sung me this song and I thought 'man, this song is for me.' I don't care what he says. He wrote it for himself, but it's for me. Every time I sing it, I get rest because it it's a true blessing. The words in it mean everything and I just hope anywhere I'm singing, anywhere I go, and I know he feels the same way and my daddy the same way, is everyone is welcome and it makes no difference what nationality you are, what religion you are, or what race you are, you're all welcome and you're all God's children. This song really speaks to me and I hope it will speak to you as well." She then sang "Tomorrow" (which is the title of Jerry and Tammy's upcoming album which Marty produced.)

Gary then announced that Marty would be signing copies of his new book in the lobby after the show. Marty made the announcement that if you buy a copy of the book and you don't like it, send it to Gary Chapman and he'll give you your money back. Gary said that he couldn't believe Sam's Place had been around for five years. He told Marty "You look exactly like you did and I hate you for it." The finale is always "I'll Fly Away." Sara Evans had left so Marty invited Connie Smith to come out and join in. Marty wanted Elvis to return. "Where's Elvis? Is Elvis still around?" Someone made the remark "Elvis has left the building" and the crowd cracked up. "Elvis" did return to help out as well.

Marty immediately went out to the lobby to start signing autographs. They had a merchandise table set up and Jimmy was working it. They had a new white T-shirt, which I bought. I figured I might as well have him autograph it while I was there and the line to see him wasn't very long.

He was a sweetie to everyone--sold some books and CDs. Mike was there but nobody was rushed and you had time to chat with Marty. Several fans had traveled considerable distances to see Marty--Karen Ross from Missouri, Gail from South Carolina, and Evelyn Totty from Mayfield, Kentucky. Also got to talk with fellow Martypals Cindy Allred, Margie Sullivan, Bobbi Johnson and Judy Trickett. The Renfro Family, Leslie Anne Rawlings and Donna Lewis were there as well as Shelby Jean Gootee and Sandy Shelton.

Marty seemed to downplay his taking time off the road. I know he will stay busy, but I just don't know how often the fans will actually be able to see him. Mike was great to the fans. I didn't ask what his plans were but he said that they would be doing a lot of things "like this" and that they weren't "going to be gone for long.....just a year." I told him "I guess you guys aren't Y2K compliant." Mike laughed and said, "I guess not."

I also spoke with Tammy Sullivan who said their third album (produced by Marty), Tomorrow should be out the middle of January. All in all, it was a wonderful evening of entertainment, spending time with friends, and getting to chat with Marty--oh the joys of living in Nashville, Tennessee. This was definitely a night to remember.

Review by Sherry Mattioli
Photos by Mario Mattioli

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