Stuart Country-Rocks The Tralf

Seasoned musician shows he's headed for the top

This article appeared in the Buffalo News - February 29, 1992

The country music fans who converged on Marquee at the Tralf got lucky Friday night. They caught the act of one Marty Stuart, a 33-year-old hillbilly rocker who is headed right for the big time of his chosen profession. You may not see Stuart and his band in a cozy venue like the Tralf for a long, long time.

In a one-hour show that seemed to go by in 15 minutes, Stuart showed what folks who have bought his last couple of compact discs already know--he has the voice, guitar licks and songwriting ability to step right up there with Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and the other Young Guns of country.

And unlike many of the others, he has paid his dues. Stuart has been playing on the road and in the studios since he was 13 years old, with the likes of Lester Flatt, Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, Neil Young and Johnny Cash, his former father-in-law.

He even has sex appeal, I was informed by the pretty young woman who sat to my right during the first of two well-attended Tralf shows.

"Are you ready for honky-tonkin' tonight?" asked Stuart's energetic bass player, Larry Marrs.

He needn't have asked. As soon as Stuart hit the stage, jumping into Young's "Back To The Country," the audience was right with him--the men letting out their war whoops and the women squealing in delight.

Stuart is not your typical country singer. He bears a facial resemblance to a young John Gotti; his clothes and a hairstyle resemble those of the bratty tennis punk Andre Agassi. But Stuart's music is as country as country gets.

His 16-song set drew heavily on his two latest recordings, "Hillbilly Rock" and "Tempted," which are among the very best country releases of this young decade. Stuart's singing lead guitar had the enthusiastic backing of a small but effective band--Marrs, drummer Junior Sturdivant (a grandson of Kitty Wells) and guitarist Brad Davis.

It was a fiery show throughout, but several songs stood out. One was "Till I Found You," Stuart's biggest radio hit, with Davis doing a nice job on the twangy, almost dreamlike lead guitar. The women in the audience especially seemed to like the rocking version of Eddie Miller's 1965 gem, "Burn Me Down" with its chorus, "Touch me, turn me on, burn me down."

Stuart and Davis returned to their roots for a couple of bluegrass numbers, showing off some lightning quick fret work, and Stuart gave a heartfelt solo performance of "Since I don't Have You," a sad song written after his divorce from Cash's daughter.

The band paid homage to Cash with a version of "Blue Train" and, in perhaps the best number of the night, Stuart sang "Long Black Veil," the sad ballad. He also did his latest hit, "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," which just didn't seem the same without his buddy and duet partner, Travis Tritt.

Stuart told his fans that if any of them wanted their money back, they could send their ticket stub to Dwight Yoakam to get a refund. Although we would have liked to hear more than 60 minutes of music, no one is likely to ask for the refund.

Review written by Dan Herbeck

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