Yoakam Visits Stuart's Party
|This appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine - January 22, 2001|
Get a nomination, throw a party. That was the idea behind Marty Stuart's performance last Friday night in the Foundation Room at Los Angeles' House of Blues. Stuart (along with Larry Paxton and Kristin Wilkinson) was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score for the soundtrack to Billy Bob Thornton's All the Pretty Horses.
So Stuart -- backed by Steve Arnold on bass, Gregg Stocki on drums and Brad Davis on guitar -- entertained a celebrity-studded crowd that included members of Sugar Ray, Dan Akroyd, Jon Lovitz and members of Social Distortion, who had just finished their set on the main stage downstairs) in the top-floor private club.
Stuart, decked out in all black, was a generous bandleader, sharing the stage and mike, with a number of guests. First up was his wife, legendary country singer Connie Smith. Stuart told crowd how he had seen her play many years ago and told his mother he would eventually marry her. "I did it twenty-five years later," he said with a big smile. "Sure took him a long time!" Smith said, adding that she loved many things about Stuart, but her favorite was his mandolin playing. Stuart proceeded to accompany her on mandolin as she belted out "Amazing Grace" and a couple of country-flavored songs.
To introduce bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, Stuart shared a childhood memory with the crowd: "When I was a kid in racially divided Philadelphia, Mississippi, Earl had a TV show, and for thirty minutes you felt the air get lighter. There was no race, no color. That's when I realized the power of music." Scruggs came out with his vintage Thirties banjo and jammed with Stuart on "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," his 1949 Grammy-winning instrumental made famous in Bonnie & Clyde, and several other tunes.
In his first appearance on stage with Stuart, Billy Bob Thornton was a natural, sounding like a cross between Tom Petty and Leonard Cohen. "Who here remembers when JFK was shot?" Thornton asked before launching into the Byrds' classic, "He Was a Friend of Mine," all the more poignant as it was the eve of Dubya's inauguration. Thornton followed that number with "Starlight Lounge."
Next out was Dwight Yoakam, in an all-denim outfit complete with his ever-present cowboy hat. Stuart and Yoakam shared the mike in a thirty-minute segment. "We destroyed a couple of Merle Haggard songs," Stuart said later of the set that included "Swinging Doors" and "The Fugitive."
Scruggs returned for the final song of the night, a rousing version of the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies," performed by the "Hillbilly Rat Pack," as Stuart labeled his ensemble, with Scruggs' and Stuart's fingers flying and the audience singing along.
By Chris Rubin
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