Forget The Flash, Marty Stuart Is Pure Country

This review appeared in the Houston Chronicle - October 4, 1992

Marty Stuart might have been at the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night receiving his induction papers. Instead, Stuart kept a previous appointment at the Miller Outdoor Theater, where he was the top bill at the KIKK Fall Country concert with Pam Tillis, John Anderson and Doug Supernaw.

And when Stuart does go back to Nashville to join the Opry, he will have something to show for his trip to Texas. Stuart is a fanatical country-music history buff, and he tours the country in the Texas Troubadours' bus once owned by Ernest Tubb. Two former Texas Troubadours, Don Mills and Junior Pruneda, were on hand Saturday to present Stuart with a plaque signed by Gov. Ann Richards making him an honorary Texan.

In response, Stuart did the only appropriate thing--he played Tubb's country classic Waltz Across Texas while a huge crowd estimated at more than 20,000 happily sang along as the sun went down on a pleasant autumn evening.

Old E.T. no doubt would have approved of Stuart's elaborately embroidered Manuel of Hollywood jacket and colorfully embossed cowboy boots, although he might have done a double take when it came to the singer's rock 'n' roll rooster haircut and skintight jeans.

Yet for all his superficial flash, Stuart's musical roots run pure and deep in country music. This is, after all, a man who went on the road with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt while still in his teens and spent several years playing lead guitar with Johnny Cash.

Stuart made mention of all the young talent on hand at last week's Country Music Association awards, where he won in the Best Vocal Event category for his duet with Travis Tritt on The Whiskey Ain't Workin'.

"This is absolutely the most exciting time ever in country music," he said. Then he added, "But if it weren't for the old guys like Roy Acuff and George Jones and Johnny Cash, we wouldn't have nothin' to sing about now."

Stuart paid tribute to those who came before with a spooky, bluegrass-inflected version of Lefty Frizzell's Long Black Veil and a faithful cover of Merle Haggard's Today I Started Loving You Again. His originals also demonstrated a command of classic country styles, from hard-bitten honky tonk of This One's Gonna Hurt You to the hillbilly rock of Tempted and Little Things.

At its best, Stuart's music serves as a bridge for young audiences between country's past, present and future. The same might be said of co-headliners Tillis and Anderson.

Review by Rick Mitchell

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