Stuart Rocks 'Em At (Montana) State Fair

This appeared in the Great Falls Tribune - July 1992

Move over Alan Jackson. There's a new country sex symbol in town. And he's not only the King of Hillbilly Rock, but Marty Stuart is hot.

Leaping onstage in a pink, blue and white jacket, with jeans and a pair of knee-length floral cowboy boots, Stuart kicked off his first show Monday night with a rousing old Neil Young tune, "Get Back To The Country."

With a five-piece finely tuned band--heavy on the steel and fiddle, thank you--Stuart introduced some 2,500 fans to the infectious hit, "Western Girls." He then dedicated a song called "When The Sun Goes Down" to "all the drunks out there" and crooned "Till I Found You."

Stuart, who said he was up at dawn in Great Falls Monday, joked, "I've already been to every pawnshop in town." But he blamed Jackson's band, not his, for inserting a baby bottle into the mouth of the Charlie Russell statue downtown. "This show is not a formal show," he cautioned fans. "Feel free to raise hell."

And about that time, with his fiery "Burn Me Down," one of the sexier tunes around, the show came roaring alive. He followed up with his current Travis Tritt duet (now at number five on country music charts) "This One's Gonna Hurt You (For A Long, Long Time")" and a throbbing "Tempted" that led to Tritt's "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore."

Fans who remember Kostas from the Montana music scene in the 1970s will be heartened to hear that Stuart has been writing songs "at Kostas' kitchen table in Bozeman," as Stuart put it before introducing "Half A Heart," one of their newer efforts.

Audience sing-alongs (a solo, even) and jokes were the order of the evening as Stuart won over the crowd during his 14-song, 70-minute show. He introduced his new video, "Now That's Country" and explained that people born and raised in the country (he comes from rural Mississippi) end up with an "us" and "them" mentality. Of course, anyone who can rhyme "John Deere" and "rocking chair" would be one of "us."

Another hit, "Little Things," from his 1991 album, "Tempted," was followed by a standing ovation. For an encore, a talking blues tune called "Me & Hank & Jumpin' Jack Flash" from his new album, "This One's Gonna Hurt You" was segued into one of his first big hits, the strong-beated "Hillbilly Rock."
Stuart, who was big on thanking fans for flowers and a note handed upstage, was one of the friendlier performers to appear at the State Fair since Garth Brooks last year. He shook hands all around and introduced himself backstage. And, oh yes, after the show, he signed autographs.

He Owes It To "Those Old Men"

"I'm so proud of all those old men who raised me," Marty Stuart proclaimed in concert Monday night. Sitting by Ernest Tubb's old bus, the Silver Eagle, behind the Four Seasons Arena before his first show, The King of Hillbilly Rock and Nudie Flash was happy that his latest single had reached No. 5 on the country music charts.

Casual in jeans and black tee shirt, bandana wound around his head, Stuart recalled going on the road at 13 with Lester Flatt, playing with former father-in-law Johnny Cash and being around the likes of Ernest Tubb. Stuart, recalling Tubb hunched over, signing autographs to the last fan, says the moment was a valuable lesson of the old stars' obligations to their fans.

"I made a lot of mistakes the first time," he recalls of his prodigal start. "But country music is a forgiving bunch of people." Today Stuart owns guitars by Hank Williams Sr., Lester Flatt and others. But his flashiest memorabilia is a 400-piece collection of old custom-tailored suits by designer Nudie, Manuel and others.

Immaculately crafted, often made with Czechoslovakian glass beads, the suits were hunted down by Stuart at garage sales and by perusing the Musicians Directory to find everybody who ever wore one. "A lot of people gave them to me. They were being thrown in the trash. I bought some and loaned some for my first videos."

"Sometimes I look up in the sky and I say, 'God, why was I sent to do this?' " Stuart says. But he says he hopes to open a museum someday. At a recent Minnesota show, distracted by a ferris wheel, he said, "Excuse me if I keep drifting to the right. My suit thinks that's its mother."

Articles written by Jo-Ann Swanson

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