On Tour ...... Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt's No Hats

This appeared in Country Fever Magazine - April 1993

Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart had been taking their mega-hot "No Hats" tour all over the country last year, and Halloween night finally brought them to the Universal Amphitheatre, which is located on the lot of Universal Studios, just north of Los Angeles. The walk from the parking structure of this complex is long enough to begin with, but this night there was a Halloween celebration going on at the studio lot next door, so concert-goers were detoured around the perimeters of the complex, getting lovely views of wooden walls and impending construction. (It seemed to take longer to walk from the parking structure to the Amphitheatre than it did to drive from home to Universal City.)

After finally reaching the Amphitheatre, we were confronted with a plethora of merchandise. I was roaming the counters, looking for the ultimate Travis & Marty fan--and I found her. Her denim jacket was embellished with the "No Hats" logo in rhinestones, and the names of her faves. I went up to her and asked if she had seen Country Fever's story on the duo and she replied that she had the centerspread under the glass of her coffee table at home. Now, that's a fan!

After fiddler Mark O'Connor got the crowd suitably warmed up, Marty Stuart charged out onstage, resplendent in one of his many rhinestoned jackets, very tight faded jeans, and fancy boots. He opened appropriately enough with "Get Back To The Country" before launching into "Western Girls" and the classic, "Wine Me Up." He kept up the momentum with "Burn Me Down," "High On A Mountain Top" and his duet single "This One's Gonna Hurt You," for some reason done solo this time. All along, Marty crouched over his guitar like it was a machine gun, aiming well-chosen licks at his adoring audience.

After a tribute to some of his idols and his recent single, "Now That's Country," Marty lit into the classic "One Woman Man." He whipped the crowd into a final frenzy with "Me & Hank & Jumpin' Jack Flash," which segued into a blistering "Hillbilly Rock." Marty left the stage with the fans begging for more--and buddy Travis Tritt with a lot to live up to.

As the lights went up for intermission, it was obvious that the show was a near-sellout. Only a few seats remained in the balcony, and the crowd rushed to make their T-shirt purchases and get back to their seats in time for Travis' opening. As the house lights dimmed, a video screen dropped in front of the stage. George Jones appeared on the screen and did his unique version of "The Star Spangled Banner." As he finished, Travis strolled out onto the stage in his red leather fringed jacket and jeans with matching trim, lifted his hand in salute to the legend, and the screen went back up. I heard comments that it was corny, but for most of the crowd, it worked.

Travis began his set with "Put Some Drive In Your Country," an apt choice for this driven' country show, then kept up the momentum with "T-R-O-U-B-L-E." He slowed things down with "Drift Off To Dream" and kept it mellow with "I'm Gonna Be Somebody." Travis' debut hit "Country Club" was followed by the most surprising choice of the evening, a cover of Bob Seger's "Night Moves." The tempo came down a bit with "Help Me Hold On" and a somewhat overlong version of "Leave My Girl Alone." Throughout, the fringe on his jacket flew in time with his movements and, on his running around, we could view the red leather patches that drew your attention to the rear of his jeans.

Then the video screen came down again to show the Vietnam-veteran themed "Anymore" video, which, combined with Travis' live version, garnered the biggest ovation of the night. Travis leaned a bit too heavy on trying to make the audience sing along on "Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man," but the temperature in the Amphitheatre immediately raised several degrees when Marty Stuart bounded back onstage. The duo brought the house down with their hit "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" and "The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised," before being joined by Toy Caldwell of the legendary Southern rockers The Marshall Tucker Band on the Tucker song "Can't You See." This collaboration should have given a clue to new country fans as to where guys like Travis and Marty got some of their influences.

The audience demanded an encore from Travis and he responded with a rousing "Burning Love." By now the crowd was on its feet and whipped into a frenzy by these two great talents. Backstage, Travis and his management company hosted a party for his TV movie Rio Diablo, and celebs like Delta Burke and Gerald McRainey mingled with record industry folks and costumed extras from the film. It was another memorable night on one of the most exciting tours in country music. If these two go their separate ways in 1993, their shows will still be a delight for their fans, but the chance to see these two guys together made the "No Hats" tour a unique experience. Hopefully, Travis and Marty will make their collaborations an ongoing thing, because this team is too good to break up permanently!

By Linda Cauthen

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