Marty Stuart's 'Superlative' Set At Lincoln Center

This appeared on - August 15, 2011

To call your group Fabulous Superlatives risks overkill, but in Marty Stuart's case it's an understatement. Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives were in fact super-superlative at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park Bandshell Saturday night as they capped the first day of the 28th annual Roots of American Music Festival.

Guitarist/mandolinist Stuart and his band (guitarist Kenny Vaughan, bassist Paul Martin and drummer Harry Stinson) performed his big country hits "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," "Tempted" and "Hillbilly Rock," along with gospel tunes like an acoustic version of Bill Monroe's "I'm Working On A Building," for which Stinson came out from behind the drums to sing lead. An extraordinary country guitarist, Vaughan also got a solo turn on his signature "Country Music Got A Hold On Me."

The Superlatives dazzled superbly on instrumentals, too, but the show's high point centered on Johnny Cash songs--Cash having been one of Stuart's two employers, following a bluegrass stint with Flatt & Scruggs that Stuart commenced at age 14.

Stuart saluted Cash's late bass player Marshall Grant, who died a week ago, then did a version of Cash's tribute to guitarist Luther Perkins, Grant's partner in Cash's original backup, the Tennessee Two. He played "Luther Played The Boogie" straight halfway, then converted it to a Vaughan tribute.

He then brought out a vintage guitar on which Cash played "I Walk The Line," which Stuart recently verified and acquired. Playing it for the first time in public since then ("It's been under a bed in Chattanooga Tennessee since 1959 as far as I can figure," he said), he delivered two key cuts from his favorite album At Folsom Prison, "I Still Miss Someone" and "Dark As A Dungeon."

By Jim Bessman

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