Marty Stuart Shakes Up Ghosts
|This appeared on GAC-TV.com - June 10, 2010|
Its a small, old-timey spot on Music Row, a boxy building thats easily overlooked if youre just driving by. But theres a treasure trove of history at RCA Studio B in Nashville, and Marty Stuart used the joint on Wednesday to preview his Ghost Train album for a select group of media.
Studio B practically rings with history. The Everly Brothers, Skeeter Davis, Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley all recorded there. Martys first session, in October 1972, took place in the studio when he was a 13-year-old member of Lester Flatts band. And Martys wife, Connie Smith who was among the guests Wednesday recorded her first hit in the same place in 1964.
Marty stood in the back of the room in the same general area where Elvis stood when he recorded Its Now Or Never and A Big Hunk O Love as he previewed the new CD, which required Marty to give a little extra effort to get the facility sounding right.
Studio B is now a part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Belmont University, Marty noted, so its really not a functional studio except for students.
Marty corralled a few friends including the Oak Ridge Boys Duane Allen and Studio B manager Luke Gilfeather to figure out some of the old recording techniques and make it workable for Ghost Train, inspired in part by steel guitarist Ralph Mooney. The results are impressive with slappy drum licks, reedy stand-up bass and judicious tremolo guitar as Marty captures the stark sound of a previous eras commercial country radio with a real energy. He draws on Mama Tried-era Merle Haggard and Outlaw-era Waylon Jennings in the opening Branded, remakes Warner Macks The Bridge Washed Out with lots of subtle rhythms and gets a crisp sound on Ralph Mooneys instrumental version of Ray Prices classic Crazy Arms, a song Ralph co-wrote.
Marty duets nicely with Connie on I Run To You, and pays homage elsewhere to a couple of Country Music Hall of Famers who contributed to his own resume. Hangman is a dramatic number about a man haunted by dark memories of the lives hes snuffed out in a Death Row government job. Its also the last song Marty wrote with Johnny Cash penned literally days before the Man in Blacks death. Marty likewise invokes the memory of another lost legend in Porter Wagoners Grave, a recitation about a cemetery visit from a rhinestone-clad ghost with a message of hope and spirituality.
Marty produced Porters final album, Wagonmaster, which he had initially hoped to record at Studio B.
It didnt quite line up, but I didnt take my eye off of this place, Marty noted. I love the sound of it, I love the feel of it, and this is a real studio. Its a special room, an amazing cathedral especially for country music, because so much of country musics history was forged here.
Ghost Train will be released August 24, 2010. In the meantime, Marty was set to hit another place he worked with Lester Flatt last night. He hosted his annual Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium with proceeds slated for MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief program. Announced guests included Keith Urban, songwriters Dallas Frazier and Cowboy Jack Clement, Ronnie Milsap, Ralph Mooney, Connie Smith and the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band.
By Tom Roland
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