'Superlative' Evening Promised With Marty Stuart

This appeared on EmporiaGazette.com - November 4, 2014

Grammy Award Winner Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives will perform during All Veterans Tribute week at the Granada Theatre, 807 Commercial Street.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is set for Thursday, and will feature Stuart’s energetic style of rockabilly, honky tonk and traditional country music. Hopefully, there will be several songs from the new album Saturday Night / Sunday Morning, which features both honky tonk and some bluesful gospel singing.

Stuart — a five-time Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, photographer and historian — has topped the charts with solo hits such as “Arlene,” “Tempted,” “Burn me Down” and “Hillbilly Rock,” as well as duets with Travis Tritt like “The Whisky Ain’t Workin’” and “This One’s Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time).”
Born in 1958 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Marty Stuart was an early stringed instrument prodigy. At age 13, he was touring as a mandolinist with the legendary Lester Flatt. In his twenties, Stuart toured with Johnny Cash, and also played with other legends such as Bill Monroe, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Stuart launched into a highly successful solo career, and eventually he recruited “His Fabulous Superlatives,” fellow musicians Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Paul Martin. They first appear on the 2003 album Country Music.

“From the Superlatives’ first rehearsal, I knew this was the band of a lifetime,” Stuart said in a recent New York Times interview. “I knew this was my Buckaroos, my Strangers, my Texas Troubadours — my legacy band. Kenny Vaughan (guitar), Harry Stinson (drums) and Paul Martin (bass guitar) are not only musical geniuses, but statesmen. The Fabulous Superlatives are without question one of the greatest bands of our time.”

Stuart has put a lot of thought into his artistic path. He shares two interesting stories in his biography.

The first comes from the mid-90s, when he consulted his friend and mentor, Johnny Cash, about a change in musical focus.

“I went to his house and said, ‘J.R., I’ve got a record in my mind called The Pilgrim. I laid it out to him, and he said, ‘Well, just know you’re stepping up for rejection. Potentially.’”

“I said, ‘I understand, but I’ve got to do this.’ He said, ‘If you’ve got to do it, that’s all the reason you need.’” “So I made the record. It was a great critical success, and it was a line-in-the-dirt artistic moment of reconnecting with my true self, a piece of myself that I had hidden away years before, to go exploring. From that moment forward, I realized that there’s a different way to live a life as a musical citizen.”

The Pilgrim, a concept album — rare in country music — was released in 1999, and featured guest artists included Johnny Cash, George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis and Earl Scruggs. It didn’t win anything but praise, yet still stands as a unique recording in the genre. Another concept album centered around the Lakota tribe, Badlands, was released in 2005.

Another story Stuart shares concerns his musical growth.

“I heard Aretha Franklin say something one time that I never forgot” ‘When I do something new, I always wonder if people will like it, but I step forward, present it, close my eyes and stick out my hand and hope somebody takes it.’
“I thought that was a beautiful way to put it.”

Regarding the new album, Saturday Night / Sunday Morning Rolling Stone Country writes “tremendously entertaining … a testament to the indisputable fact that he has one of the best bands working in any genre today.”
Country Weekly writes: “Saturday Night / Sunday Morning, (explores) the relationship between long nights out carousing and Sunday mornings in the pew ... it’s really all about the interplay between sin and salvation, the sacred and the profane, light and dark. Marty’s hard-twanging spin on country music is an ideal vehicle for both sides, finding that sweet spot where the excitement of a night on the town is not entirely unlike the fervor of a particularly intense Sunday worship service.”

Stuart is also a country music historian, having started his career in 1972 with a camera at his side. His photos of country music stars have been collected into a book, American Ballads, and features his travels over the years. A selection of 50 of those images is also being exhibited at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, which in the past has also shown artifacts from Stuart’s vast historical collection, including handwritten lyrics by Hank Williams, a George Jones guitar and costumes worn by Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.

The Americana Music Association gave Stuart a lifetime achievement award in 2005. His Saturday night music show on RFD-TV can also be watched on the Marty Stuart channel on You Tube.

By  Regina Murphy

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