Birthday Beat

This appeared on Lime Wire Music Blog - September 30, 2010

How do you define the career of Marty Stuart? It’s not the easiest thing to do. The Philadelphia, Mississippi native, who celebrates his birthday today, has had success on so many different levels.

First, there is his prowess as an instrumentalist. He started playing behind Lester Flatt when he was 13 and developed quite the reputation as one of the great young bluegrass pickers of the 1970s. He grew as a musician even more when he played in the band of one of his heroes, Johnny Cash. Even after Stuart left the Cash band, the two still maintained their friendship and collaborated many times, until just a few days before Cash’s death in October 2003.

Then, there are his own high-water moments as a recording artist. He released Busy Bee Café in 1982 for Sugar Hill Records. Cash (among other Nashville performers) appeared on the album’s stirring song “Get In Line, Brother.” He signed with Columbia in 1985, but it was with MCA Nashville that Stuart made his mark. Songs like “Hillbilly Rock” and “High On A Mountain Top” definitely had a contemporary sound and feel, but he was also introducing a new generation to the country-rock sounds of the 1960s, a la Buck Owens and Johnny Cash.

He also has served as an ambassador to many of the legendary artists, working with such veterans as Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, and Porter Wagoner. It was Wagonmaster, a 2007 Wagoner album produced by Stuart, and issued on L.A. rock indie Anti Records, that gave Porter his final musical triumph before passing away in October 2007, getting rave reviews, as well as leading to a Madison Square Garden performance with The White Stripes before losing a battle with cancer.

Since then, Stuart’s profile continues to grow. His weekly television series on the RFD-TV network has increased in viewers since its 2008 debut, and he has just released Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions, an album that showcases his love for the past and desire to share it with current and future listeners. The album was recorded with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, in the legendary RCA Studio B, where a teenage Stuart once went behind the glass while recording with Flatt. As the old saying goes, “The circle goes unbroken.”

By Chuck Dauphin

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