Stuart Brings His Mix Of Contemporary, Traditional Country Music To Hamlin

This appeared in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch - May 26, 2007

When George Jones sang that classic song, "Who's Going to Fill Their Shoes," he must not have been able to see Marty Stuart for the hair and the flashy Nudie suit.

Stuart, the Philadelphia, Mississippi native who started out on the road with Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass at age 13, has been filling in those boots just fine.

Well on his way to becoming a country music legend himself, Stuart, who produced Porter Wagoner's last CD, as well as Kathy Mattea's new project, is a true melting pot of country, bluegrass and blues music, bridging the divide between classic country and the latest torch and twang.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, May 27, Stuart and his revved up rockabilly unit, The Fabulous Superlatives, perform live in concert at the Live @ Lincoln concert series at the new Lincoln County High School theater in Hamlin.

"This is a real treat for us," said Kelli Burns, Friends of the Arts executive director. "Being able to showcase Dave McCormick alongside an incredible, versatile talent like Marty Stuart is just tremendous. You see, not only do we want to bring music to Southern West Virginia, we also want to showcase local talent. McCormick is a very talented songwriter whose work speaks to us, his friends and neighbors. We're just happy to have this opportunity to share him with the rest of the state."

One of the most active members of the Grand Ole Opry, Stuart carries the torch high for country music.

His lastest album, Compadres, tells the story of his growth as a musician and performer. It's an album of collaborations with the artists who have meant the most to him over the years, including Lester Flatt, Steve Earle and the Old Crow Medicine Show as well as Johnny Cash and Mavis Staples.

Olive Hager, vice president of the Friends of the Arts, said they're excited to have Stuart, one of country music's true believers.

"It is clear that Marty Stuart is on fire creatively. He has recorded the four best albums of his career with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, and has put on some of the best shows of his career," said Hager. "We're proud to have him here. This will probably be our biggest concert this spring."

Stuart never abandoned his bluegrass roots and often collaborated with such string-band legends as Earl Scruggs; Del McCoury (heard here on "Let Us Travel, Travel On" from the 2003 tribute album, Livin' Lovin' Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers); and the Old Crow Medicine Show. Stuart stayed with Flatt till 1978 and then joined the Johnny Cash Show in 1980. The traveling troupe included June Carter, the Carter Family and the Tennessee Three, and Stuart often sang Jimmie Skinner's prison song, "Doin' My Time," as a duet with Cash. The two men later recreated it for Stuart's 1992 album, This One's Gonna Hurt You.

Cash was perhaps the biggest influence on Stuart, but the youngster absorbed lessons like a sponge from great singers like George Jones and Merle Haggard. Among Stuart's most important compadres were his fellow Mississippians B.B. King and the Staple Singers. Stuart sang "Confessin' the Blues" with King on the latter's 1997 album, Deuces Wild. He recast the Band's "The Weight" with the Staple Singers for the 1994 album, Rhythm, Country & Blues. Mavis Staples helped sing "Move Along Train" on Stuart's 2005 album, Souls' Chapel.

After serving his apprenticeships with Flatt and Cash, Stuart left ready to pursue a solo career. In 1986, he released Marty Stuart on Columbia and enjoyed his first top-20 single. Stuart enjoyed his greatest stretch of chart success in the early '90s when he recorded for MCA. He had top-10 solo singles such as "Hillbilly Rock," "Tempted" and "Burn Me Down," but he also formed a fruitful partnership with another young traditionalist, Travis Tritt. They had top-10 success with such duets as "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" (included on Compadres). The MCA years ended with Stuart's masterful concept album, 1999's The Pilgrim.

In the course of producing and co-writing the 1998 comeback album, Connie Smith, Stuart fell in love with the legendary singer and married her.

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