Marty Stuart Headlines Pickin' In The Panhandle
|This appeared in the Herald-Mail - September 7, 2011|
Labor Day weekend marked 39 years since a 13-year-old kid from Philadelphia, Mississippi went on the road with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt.
Nearly four decades later, as his bus drives into Arkansas ahead of an appearance at the World Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Marty Stuart nonchalantly rattles off the events leading up to his odyssey into the music business.
I had been out on the circuit in the summer of 1972 playing with a gospel bluegrass band in our area and I befriended one of Lesters band members, Stuart recalled during a telephone interview, and he just said casually, Sometime you oughta come to Nashville (Tennessee) and ride along with us, and so I took him up on it, and it turned into a job.
Stuarts career will take him to Hedgesville, West Virginia on Sunday, September 11, for Pickin in the Panhandle. Stuarts 4 p.m. show on the main stage winds down the three-day barbecue and bluegrass festival. Pickin in the Panhandle gets under way at 4 p.m. Friday.
In his career, less than 10 years after joining Flatt, Stuart found himself playing with another legend, Johnny Cash. Again, Stuart tells the story of this pairing with little fanfare.
A buddy of mine was building a guitar for (Cash). (Flatt) had just passed away and I needed a job, Stuart explained. And I kept up with the progress of the guitar with the understanding that, Hey when you take that guitar to Johnny Cash, I wanna go with you. So thats how that worked. We hit it off immediately. (Cash) kept shaking my hand and saying, Whereve you been? and I said, Gettin ready, and he said, Well, OK, and out of the blue came a call (to join Cashs band).
Stuart described the relationship between him and his former father-in-law (Stuart was married to Cashs daughter, Cindy Cash) as, divinely ordered, and noted that his Pickin appearance will be the day before the eighth anniversary of Cashs death.
(His death) hit me at every level, Stuart said. He was a mentor, my pal, my old bandleader, my ex-father-in-law, next door neighbor ... so when he took off, he left a big ole hole.
Stuart might be known as much for his music as he is for the flamboyant Nudie-brand suits he wears while performing. He says that his style is a nod to old-school country stars.
When I first started making records on my own, country music videos were just becoming the new thing and I noticed that I would watch those videos and they didnt quite have the visual appeal to me that, say, The Porter Wagoner Show, some of those old country shows (did), he said. When I was a kid watching TV, half of those country-music programs was the visual aspect of it. It was pretty, and it was Hillbilly Hollywood. And thats when I started buying up a lot of those old suits and kind of honor that and it made our videos kind of pop a little bit.
In addition to touring, writing, recording and producing, he, his wife, country singer Connie Smith, and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, star on The Marty Stuart Show, a weekly country-music show airing on the RFD Network.
We start taping in December, take January off, and finish up in February, Stuart said. Its an intense time. We tape four shows a week when were in the middle of it. It looks so seamless and so easy when I watch it back... (But) it requires a lot of focus.
And focusing on entertaining at this weekends show is just what Stuart says he is going to do.
Me and the Fabulous Superlatives have it in our mind to light up the sky in ... West Virginia. Were gonna play old songs, new songs ..., he said, Were about to go back to the recording studio so Im sure well play some songs were about to take to the studios and some old favorites. I promise you it will be a good night.
By Amy Dulebohn
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