Witness History II - The Outlaw Years - June 24, 1998

This concert honored Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Owen and Harold Bradley. It was held at the Ryman Auditorium. Other artists performing included Kris Kristofferson, John Anderson, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Leslie Anne Rawlings (no relation to Dave) shares her review with us.

First of all, Marty opened the show with his rendition of Johnny's "Blue Train." And then he did "Tempted." He used "Clarence" for both of those songs. Marty was dressed head to toe in black. He looked really good and the house just loved him. But, they hadn't seen the best yet....Marty started talking about Waylon and how much he loved him too. I guess at one time, Waylon pulled an "Oral Roberts." Marty asked the audience if they remembered when Oral Roberts said he needed to make $8,000,000 "or he would be called home." Waylon did something similar with his record "I Don't Think Hank Done It This Way."

The audience roared and then Marty grabbed his mandolin and did the song. Now, mind you, I've been to lots of Marty's shows and seen him do all kinds of things, but watching him play and sing that song that way just blew my mind! It was incredible! When he finished, the house lifted the roof! I was so proud and happy for Marty. He really deserved it. I'll bet he had a tear in his eye. Oh, I almost forgot...he added another verse. Marty told us if we liked it, then HE wrote it, but if we didn't, then Waylon wrote it. I can't remember all of it, but it did have something to do with "kickin' -ss."

Marty hosted the first part of the show, so we got to see a lot of him. He introduced "his Brother" (Travis Tritt) and he sang "I Walk The Line." Marty said Travis is the only one he knows of to have the guts to sing that song in front of Johnny. Afterwards, they were both at the podium and Marty told him that he figured out how to get a tribute show done about the two of them. "First," he said, "You've got to tick off the CMA." (The second I've been racking my brain...I forgot because I was laughing so hard.) The third is "to take an ad out in Billboard giving Music Row "The Bird." Marty asked Travis which one he wanted to do. He said he'd do the Billboard Ad! HA!

At one point, Travis and Marty were reading from their script and the copy was bad and Marty tripped up and said something dyslexic. Travis said, "That's schooling in Philadelphia, Mississippi for ya!"

Of course, one of the reasons for the evening was to give Chettie awards to Waylon and Johnny. Marty joked early in the evening that "they ought to give 'em to Jessi and June for putting up with them all these years!" An unexpected highlight was when Marty gave a plaque to Johnny. He told Johnny that part of the reason "Hillbilly Rock" went gold was because of "Cry, Cry, Cry." He had been waiting for a special occasion to present Johnny with a gold record and "this seemed perfect."

Later, Mark Knopfler came out to do his set and Marty backed him with his mandolin. Mark echoed everybody's thoughts when he turned to Marty before they started and said, "How you can play mandolin on this stage like THAT...I don't know." Marty just acknowledged him humbly, but I'll bet he was flipping out inside. I mean, here's Mark Knopfler, a great guitarist in his own right, bragging on "our" Marty! I was beaming like a proud mother up in the balcony.

Brenda Lee hosted the second half and presented Chetties to Owen and Harold Bradley. Also, Mark Collie was there and sang some of Waylon's songs. It was really good to see him again. I'm a big fan of him too. He's more into making movies now that Giant Records dropped him from the roster. Mandy Barnett was there to sing "Crazy" and "Hello Darlin'" for the Bradley segment.

The one moment that finally brought tears to my eyes was when Chet got up on stage to sing with Mark Knopfler "The Next Time I'm In Town" (a song that is on the "Neck To Neck" album they did together some time ago). Bless his heart....it was a bit of a struggle, but it was so precious. Chet would sing a bit of the chorus, then just stare in awe at Mark, Marty and the rest of the musicians as they played. Before the song, Chet presented Mark with one of his Gibson guitars. Marty was actually carrying it for him and Chet referred to Marty as "the kid has something for you." Marty handed the guitar to Mark and gave him Chet's regards. Very sweet!

All in all, it was a fantastic evening. It's nights like this that I'm glad I work at the Ryman.

Review by Leslie Anne Rawlings

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