Rockin' Country Comes To Kuss

This appeared in the Springfield News-Sun - March 27, 2006

Considering Marty Stuart seems to be one of the last guys in Nashville with any real appreciation of the past, you just knew it was coming.

Or at least you hoped he’d give a shout-out to Buck Owens, who died Saturday at age 76.

And so that night in Kuss Auditorium, when Stuart finally steered his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, through a cover of Owens’ great instrumental, “Buckaroo,” it was a tribute that spoke louder than words.

But Owens himself had a way with those. The AP obit recycles what has to be one of the all-time greatest slams against mainstream country music: “Assembly-line, robot music turns me off.”

Stuart’s a kindred spirit, having recently hopped off the Music City conveyer belt in order to make the most heartfelt roots music you’ll never hear on the radio.

Regardless of what Clear Channel thinks, his new direction makes for one incredible concert.

For starters, the Superlatives — guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and bassist Brian Glenn, each sporting black suits with hot pink ties — are no mere hired guns.

Since being assembled by the 47-year-old Stuart four years ago, they’ve become a band to be reckoned with. If there are two guys better than trading Telecaster licks than Stuart and Vaughan, please, drop me a line.

The band dutifully explored Stuart’s back pages as a country hit-maker — “Tempted” remains the greatest Buddy Holly song never written by Buddy Holly — but also rolled out the new stuff.

And that’s when Stuart showed he’s completely left the likes of Sara Evans, who plays Kuss tonight, in corporate la-la land.

Gathered around one microphone, the Superlatives harmonized masterfully on the Staple Singers’ “Somebody Saved Me,” all while Stuart accompanied on Pops Staples’ old guitar.

It was in that moment, you realized Stuart and the Superlatives are the real deal.

There aren’t many of those left.

By Andrew McGinn

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