The Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale, FL on February 11, 2006

On February 11, I found a perfect way to beat the winter blues.....take a road trip to Florida and have a Marty Party!! Even though the weather was cool and rainy, Marty, along with special guest Connie Smith, brought a little bit of sunshine to all of us at the Orange Blossom Opry.

The Opry house band, featuring lead singer Lori Gill, got things started with 3 songs. They were very good and I can understand why they are a popular local group. During a short break, Connie's band, The Men in Back, drifted out to get their instruments ready, and before long, Lori was back to introduce Marty's special guest.

Connie came out with a smile, looking beautiful in her sequined jeans, black top and belted black jacket. Full of energy, as always, she started with "If It Ain't Love" and then went right into "Just Let Me Know." After greeting the crowd and thanking us for coming out in the rain to see the show, she talked about how cold it was in Nashville and how glad she was to be away from the snow and ice that was predicted for that area. She also said "I was happy to come to Florida for another reason, too. I get to see Marty Stuart! I've always wanted to meet him!"

After chatting a bit about her 2 grandchildren who live in the Nashville area (they adore Marty and call him Pops) she sang "I Never Once Stopped Loving You," then ''Ribbon of Darkness" which she said always makes her think of Marty Robbins. Next was "The Hurting's All Over" followed by "Burning a Hole in my Mind."

Connie very obviously enjoys working with her band and she took a lot of time with each member as she introduced us to Rick Wright on lead guitar (her "second favorite guitar player") Gary Carter on steel guitar, Rick McClure on drums and band leader Rod Hamm on bass. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing Connie live, let me just tell you that Rod is a nut...but a very talented nut! He and Connie have a ball teasing each other and trying to one up the other one. After carrying on for several minutes, Connie managed to rein Rod in long enough to get him to sing "The One I Love Don't Live There Anymore" for us. He really has a great voice.

After showing off Gary's talents on "I'll Come Running" Connie brought Marty out to sing a song with her. She said "Heart's Like Ours" is her favorite song that she and Marty have ever written together and they did a beautiful job singing it together. As Marty left the stage, she told us that she'd decided to take him home with her or to go home with him.....however it worked out. The crowd really loved seeing them together.

"Once a Day" came next and after she finished singing, she talked about how much she loved Loretta Lynn and how proud she was when Loretta recorded that song. She then brought the house down by singing the last verse and chorus "like Loretta would do it." The woman can do a great Loretta Lynn impersonation!! "Down in the Valley" was followed by "Fight On" and then she finished her show with her usual breathtaking version of "How Great Thou Art."

Following a short intermission, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives took the stage and went right into "Now That's Country" followed immediately by "Country Boy Rock & Roll," which always seems to be a crowd favorite. The audience was mostly an older crowd, somewhat subdued, but appreciative of the talent on stage. Several people around us were there to see Connie, who performs there every year and were not very familiar with Marty's material. Trust me when I say he'd won them over by the end of the show!!

After thanking Connie for being his opening act, Marty did "Whiskey..." and talked about Travis Tritt. He told the Mr. Cobb story, which the audience loved, then joked about Florida tolls before doing "Rock Island Line." Next was his favorite Johnny Cash song "Give My Love to Rose." He talked about Johnny and how much he missed his friend and neighbor. He said "I learned so much from John......most of it got me into trouble. It caused Connie to have to come get me out of jail." He said he and Connie now own the property between their house and the former Cash estate, where Roy Orbison's house used to be. After Roy's house burned down, killing his two sons, he sold John the land with the understanding that nothing would ever be built there. John planted all different kinds of fruit trees and turned the land into an orchard. After John died, Marty & Connie bought the land from John Carter Cash so they can continue to carry out Roy's wish. Marty said he always sees crows out in the orchard and they inspired him to write the song "Dark Bird" to help deal with his grief after the death of his friend. You could hear a pin drop while Marty performed the song.

"Tempted" was next, followed by introductions of the Fabulous Superlatives. With much encouragement from Marty and the audience, Kenny took center stage and told us how "Country Music's Got a Hold on Me." They had a blast doing this song and the audience really loved it. Connie came back to the stage and joined Marty to sing "Farmer's Blues" "the way it was meant to be done." He flirted with his bride with some fancy guitar playing at the end of the song and said he hoped he'd impressed her because "I'm taking her home with me tonight!!"

Marty talked about the Lakota people and how much they mean to him before singing "Take My Body Down to Wounded Knee." He then moved us on to the church house and Brian did "Take the Lord With You" which had the audience clapping and cheering before the song was over. After a bluegrass version of "Hillbilly Rock," Marty said they were running out of time, so he did a quick mandolin instrumental that turned into "Orange Blossom Special." By this time, anyone who didn't know who Marty Stuart was before he came onstage was won over and the audience cheered for more. Marty asked "Can we go over?" We said "YES!!" so Harry moved out from behind the drums and they ended with a truly awesome version of "Working on a Building."

A lot of people stayed for the meet and greet, but the line went pretty fast. I had Marty and the guys sign the new CD and we talked about the show he did in Atlanta the night before. He thanked me for driving all the way to Florida to see them. I had Connie sign an old cassette of hers that I've had for years. She needs to get back in the studio!!

The second show started like the first one, with the house band playing the same 3 songs and then introducing Connie. She did "Just One Time," "Key's in the Mailbox" and "Cry, Cry, Cry" before stopping to chat with the audience a minute. She sounded a little hoarse when she spoke, but the singing was flawless, as usual. Next came "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio" followed by "Love's Not Everything" and "The Latest Shade of Blue."

Once again, band introductions were lively and full of laughter, with Rod trying to convince Connie that the standing room only crowd was there to see him instead of her. He did "The One I Love..." again, then asked Connie to do "You've Got Me Right Where You Want Me." After "I'll Come Running" Connie talked about writing love songs with Marty and brought him out to duet with her on "Heart's Like Ours." Marty said he loved the song and that "every word is true for us." Before they started singing, Marty told Connie "Happy Valentine's Day, Hoss!" and gave her a kiss. Ain't he a romantic old dog??? LOL!

"Once A Day" was again followed by a Loretta Lynn version of the song, much to the delight of the audience. Rod told her she should do the rest of the show like Loretta since her impersonation went over so well. Connie asked him to do his George Jones impression, so Rod started singing "Once A Day" like George would do it. We were all cracking up! Connie finally restored order (sort of) and Rod did a great job on "'He Stopped Loving Her Today." After "Down in the Valley," Connie again brought the house down with her stunning version of "How Great Thou Art."

Another short intermission, then Marty walked out on stage and introduced himself and the band. They started with "A Satisfied Mind" then sent "Too Much Month..." up to Washington "with all due respect." After introducing the guys, they did 'Country Boy Rock & Roll' and 'Whiskey...' followed by the usual Travis chatter. Next came "Sure Wanna Keep My Wine" a bluegrass/blues number from the new CD that the audience just loved. Marty had all of us laughing at the lyrics and amazed at the guitar work. "Tempted" was next, with Connie's name worked into the second line - "There's a girl trying to steal my heart and I'm tempted. Her name is Connie Smith....she's knows I'm tempted."

"Luther Played the Boogie Woogie" was followed by "Give My Love to Rose" and a breathtaking "Dark as a Dungeon," which was another crowd favorite. After Kenny did "Walk Like That," Marty brought Connie back out. They were laughing, teasing and flirting with each other and the crowd just loved it. Marty asked Connie "Do you ever wish you'd married Merle instead of me?" With a perfectly straight face, Connie replied, "Not so far." Marty cracked up! They were laughing so hard they had to delay the start of "Farmer's Blues" twice. After Connie left the stage, Marty talked about how men are always pulling him aside and saying "You know you married my girlfriend, don't you?"

Marty truly loves the Lakota and is so proud of the fact that he is now a member of their family. He talked about the Badlands and the raw deal the first American's got at the hand of the government. After apologizing to any descendants of Gen. Custer that might be in the audience, he did "Trip to Little Horn" and then "Casino." Brian once again encouraged us to "Take the Lord With You," then it was time for "Hillbilly Rock." Marty again said they were running over, but the audience kept cheering, so they did "The Heartbreak Kind" before wishing us all good night.

Not as many people stayed for the second meet and greet, but those who did were more talkative than at the first show. Marty seemed so relaxed, taking the time to chat with everyone and answer questions as people moved through the line. A lady requested a picture of he and Connie together, so Marty walked to the end of the table where his wife was signing, threw his leg over the back of the chair she was sitting in and squeezed in behind her.

Both shows were some of the best I've ever attended. Not only were Marty, Connie and the guys in fine form musically, they were having FUN!! Doesn't that always make a great concert even better?? Can't wait for the next party!!

Review by Judy Simonton, Lawrenceville, GA

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