Marty Parties On
Eclectic country legend brings his distinct mixture of Americana to the Imperial Theatre
|This appeared in the Metro Spirit - March 27, 2007|
Marty Stuart was making the best music of his life last year when he released three albums. But even after 35 years of material, dont look for him to sing his own praises.
Its another year. I woke up and I was here again, he chuckled. Its another year. I woke up and I was here again, he chuckled.
It wasnt just any year. Stuarts three albums covered three genres, with not a throwaway among them. The gospel masterpiece Souls Chapel, the bluegrass stomper Live at the Ryman and the concept storybook Badlands about the lives of the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota were all named best in their genres by critics.
They all appeal to me, and thats another thing about this point in my life, Stuart said. If it really doesnt come from the heart, I dont do it. I do it because my heart moves me to do it.
Musician, songwriter, producer, author and photographer, Marty Stuart has done it all, and keeps getting better.
He doesnt have to. All three of those albums were released on his new label Superlatone Records, which was established in 2005 to issue overlooked Southern gospel and roots music recordings. Dont call it a vanity label. Theres little vain about Stuart, who spends most of his time praising his band mates Its the best band in the world. Absolutely the band of a lifetime. and the musicians who have influenced his life. For someone who has played professionally since the age of 12, thats a lot of history.
History has been kind to Stuart, writing his name on a long list of award victories and a longer list of nominations. He has six top 10 hits, one platinum album, five gold ones and four Grammy Awards. Yet he doesnt dwell much on his own story.
I dont look at my awards very much. I keep my Grammys out. I like my Grammys. But its easy to look at what I did. Sometimes its better to forget about what I did so that keeps me doing what I need to do or what Im going to do.
He talks mostly about his upcoming projects. He gives a sense of perpetual motion, like he has a hard time turning his brain off at night. Running his own label did nothing to drag him down in finances and bureaucracy. In fact, Stuart said that it helped when the bottom line depended on him.
It inspired me, he said. Producing was a duty, but also a freedom for the first time. No one else dictated what the label would put out. I felt like the sky was the limit. The only thing that limits the output is my lack of creativity, my lack of focus or my lack of commitment.
Right now, Stuart is enjoying the life on the road that can be so grueling for the uninitiated, but after more than three decades, Stuart has it down to a science. Hes still got that bottom line to worry about meeting,and the projects he has lined up show hes just fanning the flames from last years detonation.
This years just about as bad, he said with a laugh.
The Pilgrim, his landmark 1999 album, is being re-released as part of a five-disc set, along with the three CDs from last year and another entitled Compadres on June 6. Hes produced a new CD by Porter Wagoner called Wagonmaster that will release on the same date. But thats not enough. Country musics Renaissance man he has scored films and written books, among other nontraditional projects for popular music icons will in that same week release another book of photography from his years of touring. Hed previously published Pilgrims: Sinners, Saints and Prophets.
Ive carried my camera with me on the road all these years, he said, and has gathered a wealth of photos of country, bluegrass and gospel luminaries. Again in that same week, an exhibit of his photography, Sparkle and Twang: Marty Stuarts American Odyssey, opens at the Tennessee State Museum.
At nearly 50, when most musicians are slouching, hat in hand, toward the sunset, his muse is still shouting in his ear. He has more books in the works, albums in the pipeline and artists with whom he wants to play. His creativity, he says, is at an all-time high, no matter the medium his chooses.
I dont try to separate them, First and foremost I know that Im a country music musician and thats home base. But creativity runs the gamut. My perspective on it is that I look to the creator. God created a lot of stuff and I figure that Ill stick close to him.
Stuart knows that his current success wouldnt have been possible if he hadnt trudged down the wagon track that life cut in front of him: on the road with The Sullivans at the impossibly early age of 12, picked up by Lester Flatt for six years, five years in Johnny Cashs band, a marriage and then divorce from Cashs daughter, Cindy, and the hits-and-misses that his many albums have had. His commercial success has never matched his critical success, but his experiences and the advice hes gathered along the way have kept him humbled.
When he was a kid, Flatt told him that in the music business, its not about coming to a new town and selling out an arena. Its about being welcomed back every year.
By Stacey Hudson
|Return To Articles||Return To Home Page|