Stuart Will Deliver Old-School Country Music

This appeared on - November 18, 2011

Ghost Train marks Marty Stuart’s return to traditional country music, and he’s bringing that sound to the Cox Capitol Theatre on Saturday.

Stuart got his first guitar when he was just 2 years old, a Mickey Mouse wind-up version, then progressed to a better one around age 7 or 8, he said, adding that he was on the road at age 12. Born in Mississippi, Stuart was influenced by gospel music right from the start.

“Raised in the South, I had the same influences as a lot of people. We went to church on Sunday and it was a steady presence in our home,” he said.

Stuart played with Lester Flatt for 13 years before Flatt died. Stuart met Johnny Cash during those years, and when he later went with a buddy to deliver a guitar to Cash, the two hit it off and Cash called and asked Stuart to play with him.

“Working with Lester Flatt gave me a foundational education in the life of a musician, and then working with Johnny Cash was like a master class finishing course,” he said.

Flatt and Cash taught Stuart that making music was not just about him, but that his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, was equally important.

“They both had enough star power that they had no problem featuring their bands. They were statesman and made everybody a star,” Stuart said. “I like to throw it to the band -- Paul Martin, Harry Stinson and Kenny Vaughan -- and I think it makes for a better night like that. I’d get really bored just playing one song after another.”

The songs are mostly written by Stuart, a custom he said he has observed in country musicians going back to Hank Williams. “Hank Williams put it best when he said, ‘I don’t write the songs; God sends them down and I just hold onto the pen. The hardest part is staying out of the way.’ ’’ It’s the influence of the musicians from that era of Williams, Flatt, Cash and many others that Stuart hopes country music will turn back to.

“It was designed to evolve from day one. After the ‘Big Bang’ of country music in Tennessee in 1927, it started changing about five years later. Looking back, it doesn’t sound like what we call country music today,” Stuart said. “I had a few pennies in the bank, the girl I love and a worn-out Telecaster, and I wanted to go back to doing what I love with a return to country music.”

“It’s a hardcore, unapologetic return to country music. The most outlaw thing you can do in Nashville right now is play country music,” Stuart said. “But it’s timeless. Trends come and go, but it remains a steady force; it just seemed like time for a new chapter.”

By Laura Shirley

Return To Articles Return To Home Page