Marty Stuart Jams With Friends

This appeared on - June 5, 2008

Marty Stuart brought together a few eclectic friends Wednesday night for his annual Late Night Jam. The famed singer-songwriter and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, set the stage for the four-hour show by opening with "Hey Bo Diddley," in tribute to the rock icon who passed away on Monday. Stuart re-wrote a few lines of the song to fit the occasion – "here we are at the late night jam/and the Grand Ole Opry/with my friends in Nashville, Tennessee" -- much to the delight of the sold-out crowd at the Ryman Auditorium.

Calling the Ryman "ground zero" for country music, Marty welcomed a cross-section of musicians and singers to the stage. Charlie Daniels brought the house down with "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and "The South's Gonna Do It Again," receiving several standing ovations throughout his set. Daniels was joined by Stuart onstage for a jam session of "Long Haired Country Boy."

Weaving in the old and new, Stuart introduced the SteelDrivers, an acoustic band with an old-time sound. Next on stage was John Rich, who added to the old by singing "Battle of New Orleans." Rich told the audience, "I know someone my age isn't supposed to know this song, but I do." He also introduced a couple new artists, Andy Gibson and Jane Deere, proclaiming that the stage they were performing on had been the one place new acts could feel welcome in the early days of the Grand Ole Opry. Then Rich brought out a surprise guest, Mel Tillis, who sang "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town."

Other special guests at the Late Night Jam included Gretchen Wilson and W.S. "Fluke" Holland, drummer for the late Johnny Cash, who together with Stuart performed several Cash songs and Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes." The evening closed out with performances by bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show, Kathy Mattea and Texas singer Sunny Sweeney. Stuart's big finale was a duet with his wife, Connie Smith, on the hymn "Amazing Grace."

The Late Night Jam benefits MusicCares, a fund that provides money for people in the music industry who need help with bills or other money-related issues. This year Stuart also gave a portion of the proceeds to the Country Music Association's "Keep the Music Playing" program in Nashville's Davidson County schools.

Every year people leave the Ryman declaring Stuart won't be able to top the show they've just seen next year. The same is true for this year, but somehow Stuart always seems to bring in enough friends and surprise guests to make the Late Night Jam one of the more special events of the CMA Music Festival

By Vernell Hackett

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