Melody Fair: Marty Stuart and Doug Stone

This article appeared in The Buffalo News - August 30, 1993

Friday night, Melody Fair was pepper-pot hot as country love tokens Marty Stuart and Doug Stone generated humid thunderclouds of excitement amid a perspiration-drenched packed house.

It was a "No Hats" night of superior New Traditionalist music performed by two of country's torch-bearing acolytes.

In the last several years, Nashville music executives have tried to label and pigeonhole country singers into "Hat" acts (Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam, Alan Jackson, etc.) or "Non-Hats" (Stuart, Stone, Travis Tritt, etc.)

Stuart and Tritt's recent "No Hats" tour poked fun at the concept and reinforced Stuart's torch-bearing litany that "Hillbilly" music traditions must not be muscled aside by Adult Contemporary-sounding crossover ambitions.

Both Stuart and Stone use blues and rock elements in their songs, but never to the point where it overwhelms the country style.

The irony is that the current country music Renaissance is reminiscent of the early 1950s when young country singers infatuated with blues styles married the two traditions and produced a high-spirited offspring known as "Rock-A-Billy" or "Rock 'n' Roll."

Stone opened his 75-minute set with Stevie Ray Vaughan's adrenaline-pumping "The House Is Rocking," followed immediately by his current single "Warning Labels"--a pure country ditty that playfully suggests that sad country songs, like cigarettes and films, should have warning labels.

Stuart and his band, dressed in rhinestone shirts and black and white cowboy boots--looking like the Byrds from their "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" period--kicked off their set with "Back To The Country," a back-to-the-basics song brimming with lots of pedal steel, fiddle and razor-sharp drumming.

Despite the heat and humidity, the two country standard bearers juiced up the energy and excitement level with rolling peals of country thunder balanced by sweetly moist love songs.

"Tempted," with its Buddy Holly rhythm chords, was a perfect example of Stuart's mixture of traditional country with rock elements. He likes to brag, "We're like The Rolling Stones of country music--we're loud and you can't take us everywhere."

His major guitar chops and encyclopedic knowledge of country music are topped off with a great sense of humor and boundless energy.

It was obvious that both performers love their fans and the feeling is more than reciprocated. I took little effort for Darlene Amberge, president of The Make-A-Wish Foundation, to persuade Stone to fulfill Lucy Gonzalez' wish, thrilling the young fan by bringing her on stage with him.

More than an hour after the concert had ended, the "instamatic and roses" fans were still milling around Marty Stuart's big black tour bus (formerly owned by Country legend Ernest Tubb), getting autographs and jawing with their heroes. It may not be cool to like country, but there's no denying the music is hot.

Article written by Jim Santella

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