Marty Stuart Shows Annapolis What Country's All About

This appeared on - January 28, 2002

"We have turned Annapolis, Maryland into one big Honky tonk tonight!" yelled Marty Stuart before ripping into a blistering version of "The Whiskey Ain't Workinq Anymore." The song quickly broke into a rowdy sing-along with Stuart trading lines with the sold-out crowd.

That was only one of many highlights of an incredible two-show performance by Marty Stuart at The Ram's Head Tavern last Saturday night (Jan. 26). Stuart is known throughout the music world as a consummate musician, having grown up playing guitar and mandolin for Lester Flatt, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and scores of others. He has also become the torchbearer for traditional country music, as president of the Country Music Foundation which oversees the Country Music Hall Of Fame, among other things.

"This is my first time playing here, so I'm letting it all hang out, so they know what they're getting if they call me again," Stuart exclaimed running his hand through his trademark spikey hair. Stuart played a wide range of material including some of his own hits like "Tempted," "Hey Baby" and "High On A Mountaintop."

Every Marty Stuart concert always includes a bunch of classics as well, and the crowd was treated to Waylon Jennings' "Are You Ready For The Country," Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt's "Please Come Back To Me," Steve Earle's "Hillbilly Highway," Bobby Bare's "Just To Satisfy You" and several Cash tunes including "Blue Train," "Cry, Cry, Cry" "Train Of Love" and another sing-along for the crowd, "Ring Of Fire."

Other highlights included a version of Doc Watson's "Cuckoo Bird" and a stunning acoustic rendition of "Long Black Veil." Stuart displayed his fantastic guitar and mandolin skills on several instrumentals including "Buckaroo" and the wacky "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon," among others.

Backing Stuart was his ever-present band The Rock And Roll Cowboys: Steve Arnold on bass and vocals, Gregg Stocki on drums and Brad Davis on guitars and vocals. All the members of the band have been with Stuart for several years and it shows: they are tight, easily handling set changes and requests without missing a beat.

Stuart thanked everybody for coming to the shows and the Ram's Head Tavern, in particular for letting them play whatever they wanted to play before tearing into his signature tune, "Hillbilly Rock" to end both shows. He then encored the first show with a quiet reading of "Hobo's Prayer" and encored the second show with Tom Petty's "Southern Accent" and his own "Rocket Ship" driving the crowd into a frenzied standing ovation.

Marty Stuart's current album is a compilation of his work with MCA records, even though the two have parted ways. The CD bares the unwieldly title of The Best of Marty Stuart 20th Century Masters The Millenium Edition. The CD gives you a brief look at his 1990-1999 output for MCA. This is definitely not a definitive greatest hits package or even a decent overview of his career. If you really want to find out about Marty Stuart look for 1999's The Pilgrim or 1992's This One's Gonna Hurt You. This is country music, played by someone who eats, sleeps and breathes country music.

By John Horney

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