Marty Stuart Won't Scale Back

This appeared in The Plain Dealer - August 26, 1994

Marty Stuart disagrees with the fan who scolded him for wearing himself out. "She said, 'I have all your albums, and I think you're spreading it a little thin right now,' " Stuart recalls. "She said I was tap dancing. I don't agree but, the more I thought about it, I am being a lot of things right now."

Stuart is touring to promote "Love And Luck," which he spent almost two years recording. He also makes frequent promotional appearances as ambassador for the city of Nashville, helping to hold back tourist inroads being made by such competitors as Branson, MO.

On tap for 1995 are four "Marty Party" TV specials focusing on honky tonk, gospel and Christmas music, bluegrass and songwriters. Then there's a book--a coffee-table tome compiling photos he's shot over his 20-year career. The 35-year-old country singer, hot guitar picker and zealous promoter of all things country has no plans to scale back. "It's time to put it back on the hard line on this record," he said.

"Love And Luck" has earned generally high praise, though nothing to rival one rave about its predecessor, "This One's Gonna Hurt You." Jack Hurst of the Chicago Tribute called that album a glimpse into country music's future because of its savvy combination of rock 'n' roll and country.

Stuart laid off the rock a bit on "Love And Luck," co-writing two songs with the legendary country songwriter Harlan Howard ("Heartaches By The Number"). But he still displays a spirit of adventure along with the reverence on an instrumental 11th cut called "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon." Most mainstream country music albums have 10 songs, each selection based on potential as a hit single.

Stuart has earned some creative license, paying dues from the age of 13 when he played mandolin in Lester Flatt's band. He also worked the road with Johnny Cash for many years and has backed performers ranging from Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris to Billy Joel and Bob Dylan.

In the 1980s, he was dropped from CBS and started over with Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, a gospel bluegrass band. He finally found stardom with the backing of MCA Records. He reunited with the Sullivans last June as part of the Ryman Auditorium's summer bluegrass series, and now that group may land a record deal thanks to a little help from Stuart.

He considers it his responsibility to make sure Nashville doesn't forget its roots in the wake of runaway success in the 1990s. "It would be a whole lot easier to go by the mall and pick up a cowboy hat and a disposable cowboy shirt and just talk about Marty Stuart," he said. "But I'd just be lying to myself and I'd be really miserable if I didn't pay attention to it. It's a lot to pull up the hill sometimes, but it's worth it."

One way Stuart keeps the past alive is with an extensive memorabilia collection. He sits beneath a poster for the late Grand Ole Opry emcee Roy Acuff while being interviewed at his manager's office. It's signed by Acuff: "To Marty, with friendship."

So, is Stuart overextended? "Love And Luck" certainly doesn't sound strained and that's the measure. Stuart hopes the album will pull him closer to yet another goal: having at least four universal songs--the kind that stick with an artist for life and define them. "At this point, it's at my nose and there's a piece of glass between me and white-hot," he said. "I can't walk away now."

From anything, apparently.

By Teresa M. Walker

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