Will The Mystery Guest Sign In Please......

...... hats off to Tritt for joining Stuart

This review appeared in The Orange County Herald - October 25, 1995

Individually, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt are two of country music's most driven innovators. Together, they form a crowd-pleasing chemistry that produced one of the hottest country acts of the decade--the 1992 No Hats Tour.

So the stars were in place for something special Monday night with Stuart headlining the Crazy Horse and Tritt in Southern California for some TV appearances between tour dates. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened next.

Tritt, who watched most of Stuart's late show from a seat near the dressing room, joined him for a six-song, 25-minute encore set that provided one of those magical concert moments that are the stuff of Crazy Horse legend.

Backed by Stuart and his band, The Rock and Roll Cowboys, Tritt strapped on his Martin and set the tempo with a down-and-dirty version of Hank Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues." Stuart then coaxed a version of "Hard Times and Misery," the blistering blues rocker that he wrote and Tritt recorded on his "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof" album.

Tritt next counted off the start to "Good Hearted Woman," apropos since his pairing with Stuart sets off more sparks onstage than anyone since the infamous outlaw duo that recorded that song, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Through it all, the crowd was more energized than it had been all night. Word has circulated from the outset that Tritt was rumored to be in the building, and his appearance in the crowd early on produced an air of anticipation for the remainder of Stuart's show.

For his own part, Stuart was more than worth waiting through, patiently delivering his standard collection of hits such as "Hillbilly Rock," "Tempted," and "Burn Me Down," punctuated with gems such as Merle Haggard's "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" and an instrumental reading of "Since I Don't Have You" featuring steel guitarist Gary Hogue.

But crowd's excitement was palpable by the time he left the stage before his encore. It exploded when Tritt came on, shortly after Stuart and Co. returned to the stage.

Stuart requested Tritt's solo acoustic version of the forlorn-lovers lament "Anymore" and for the next couple of minutes it was only the raw-edged emotional force of Tritt's distinctive voice and his guitar that pierced the otherwise still room.

It was the highlight of the event, which the two capped off with Johnny Cash's "Doin' My Time" (from Stuart's "This One's Gonna Hurt You" album) and their trademark "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," which launched their recording marriage back in 1991.

Throughout the set, Tritt and Stuart traded licks and jokes, displaying an interactive energy that is rare even in the close-knit country music community. Besides providing a memorable moment, the set is likely to create some momentum toward a possible retooled reprise of No Hats.

Both Tritt and Stuart have pronounced some interest in that concept now and again. Judging from the reception Monday, country fans would support the venture overwhelmingly.

Review written by Gene Harbrecht

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