Bluegrass Men

This appeared in the Green Bay Press Gazette - January 24, 2008

It was a great double-bill by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder Monday night at Oneida Casino. The mandolin marathon clocked in at well past two and half hours, and that's excluding the intermission that gave Stuart time to mingle with fans after his set.

Skaggs and his six-piece Thunder lined up across the stage like a mighty wall of bluegrass and got down to serious business on their leader's command of, "C'mon boys, a little bluegrass now.'' It was good stuff, everything from genuine articles like "Bluegrass Breakdown'' to the more country-leaning fare of "A Simple Life'' and the audience-requested "Highway 40 Blues.''

But for all-around entertainment, stage presence and band chemistry, the nod goes to Stuart, who looked like he was having a blast playing with his three Superlatives, who were fabulous indeed.

Playing a mandolin that looked like it was plucked right out of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Stuart was all smiles during songs and his frequent stories, including a bluegrass version of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive'' that actually worked. But the best moment of the night came for his solo tribute to mentor Johnny Cash, a haunting "Dark Bird.''

By Kendra Meinert

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