Marty Stuart Still Bringing Roots Country To The Fore

This appeared in the Montgomery News - August 1, 2013

You'll go a long way before you find something Marty Stuart hasn't done when it comes to country music. Whether it's performing, recording with all-time greats, writing, producing or doing whatever he can to preserve the rich heritage of the music he dearly loves, the constantly active Stuart has an unassuming, appreciative air about him that belies the fact that he's achieved that often-overused description of “living legend.”

"I try to stay busy," he humbly laughed in a phone interview on the morning of July 31 from Tennessee.

Fittingly, Stuart will be true to his word when he returns to the Sellersville Theater — with his backing band the Fabulous Superlatives — for not one, but two shows on August 2 at 6 and 9 p.m.

"The Sellersville Theater has always been great to us," said Stuart. "When I put this band together about 12 years ago and we were first getting our wheels rolling and had no track record, we came to Sellersville and got such a great, warm reception. I never forgot that.

"We've tried to get back there whenever we can."

For Stuart, it's more than just a great, intimate venue with good sound and appreciative fans.

"It's a wonderful theater," he said. "I am very mindful of places like that and the place they have and the importance they have in small-town America. I believe in small-town America and that is the truth. I don't mean that in a flag-waving way.

"It's something I'm sincere about — the people, that feeling of community — that has real importance. We need to help that thrive."

That concept took on an even more personal turn when Stuart wrapped up the fifth season of his highly successful, self-titled show on RFD-TV with a concert and live taping of the season finale at the Ellis Theatre in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

"Oh man, it was a lot of fun," he said. "The Ellis Theatre is a place I went to see movies as a child. There are so many small theaters and venues like that across this country, places that need support to survive."

While Stuart has long had a reputation as a devoted live performer with a constantly growing schedule on the road, the leap into television was far more seamless than you might think.

"I kept wondering why nobody was doing something like we're doing right now, something like I used to watch in the '60s," said Stuart, whose show blends traditional country music performed by himself and the Fabulous Superlatives, his wife Connie Smith and an endless stream of guest with bits of gospel, rockabilly and honky-tonk. The show has featured everyone from Sheryl Crow to John Prine to Don Maddox, the last living member of the Haddox Brothers.

"And then I thought — well, if nobody else is doing it, why can't I? To me it was such a timeless formula. I knew what I wanted to do with it and I felt like it was important to do. I felt like we were putting our arms around what was left of a culture."

Has the success of the show — which will return for a sixth season — surprised Stuart?

"No, not at all," he said. "I believed in the world of country music that there was an audience that was being left behind, an audience that wasn't as interested in the direction contemporary country has taken and still loved the traditional roots. Merle Haggard called them 'forgotten people.'

"I felt like things were a little out of balance along those lines. I think we've given that sort of traditional country music — and that audience — a home. Even from the first shows we did, I thought if we could entertain and make it look easy, it'd be a success.

"And I like to think that's what we did."

By Ken Kolasinski

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