Stuart And Tritt Are Back Together

This appeared in the Albany Times-Union - November 20, 2008

In the early '90s, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt were almost inseparable, racking up duet hits like "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' " and "This One's Gonna Hurt You" and traveling together on the loud and twanging "No Hats" tour.

Both went on to have major country music careers throughout the decade, with Tritt angling for the mainstream while Stuart veered off into boutique projects that married his love of classic country sounds with larger thematic concepts.

Now the pair is making music again, this time on a brief acoustic tour that finds the men sitting next to each other while swapping songs and stories.

Stuart and Tritt were in the area Sunday night for a crowd-pleasing concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

Even before they found their stools, the men's roles were defined, with Tritt the Georgia rogue clad in black leather and capping each statement with a cackle, and Stuart the Mississippi sage with gray hair, a Nudie jacket and a knowing grin.

They hit their stride immediately, showing off flash guitar licks and establishing a friendly rhythm in song and chatter.

In addition to their own tunes, Stuart and Tritt also grabbed a few country classics by way of paying tribute to their roots.

These were the evening's highlights, if only because their delivery displayed an urgency and spontaneity that glossed over any minor gaffs.

"Let's play something we know now," Tritt guffawed after a medley of Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" and "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean."

Other classics included Jennings' "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang," Johnny Paycheck's "I'm The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised" (with Bakersfield guitar licks from Stuart), a fine slow reading of Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" from Tritt and The Carter Family's "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."

In the middle of the show, each performer doled out a few solo songs, and it was during these numbers that the dividing line between Stuart and Tritt became apparent.

Stuart began his professional career at age 12 and was on the road with Lester Flatt by 13. His picking dazzled and his tales — about his father-in-law, Cash, for example — rang with respect and emotion.

So did his take on "Dark Bird," a song he wrote following Cash's death.

When Tritt returned to the stage alone he asked, "How do you follow that?"

You don't, and Tritt's offerings paled in comparison, marred further by a confusing speech about the Country Music Association that was self-contradictory and perhaps even racist.

Stuart sidled back out for a mandolin solo to cap Tritt's "Anymore" and then the pair was off again on the homestretch, which included "Hillbilly Rock," "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)" and "The Whiskey Ain't Workin."

By Michael Eck

Music review


When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 30 Second St., Troy.

Length: 2 hours

Highlights: Classics from Waylon Jennings and Johnny Paycheck.

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