'Mainstream' Marty Stuart To Appear In Little Rock

This appeared in the Pulaski News - August 22, 2008

Marty Stuart will perform at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock on Saturday, August 23. Show time is slated for 8 p.m.

“I’m looking foward to coming to Little Rock. We’re doing an acousitc show there in front of an intimate audience. That should make for a fun evening,” Stuart said in a recent phone interview.

The Old State Museum is an unlikely venue for a concert. However, the museum has housed Stuart’s exhibit, Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey, since April. The exhibit will run through October 5.

With instruments, rare photographs, hand-written song lyrics, stage costumes and more, the exhibit is fine sampling of unique artifacts of country, bluegrass and rock and roll music.

“Those belongings look like treasures to me,” Stuart said. “I got pieces from family members and thrift stores and pawn shops. In a simple form, it’s honoring the people that gave me a job. Certain bits and pieces of our culture get overlooked. I think it’s great for us to make new records and stay creative but at the same time, it’s important to me to keep the tradition and our musical history alive.”

Growing up in Mississippi, Stuart was surrounded by an array musical genres. Naturally, he was influenced by all of the sounds of the region.

“I was exposed to Dixieland music, the Blues, gospel and of course, a lot of country music,” he stated. “We had a local radio station, WHOC. As a youngster, I listened to that station and I loved their format. In the morning, they played country music. That was followed by the farm report then the gospel hour. Later, they played rock and then soul. In the evening, it was easy listening. I enjoyed all of it and all of those sounds are a part of me and my music today.”

Aside from listening to the radio, Stuart was introduced to the sights and sounds of Nashville through some of the popular country music televisions shows. It was these programs that led to Stuart wanting to pursue a career in music.

“It was a way of life for me to watch country music shows on Saturday afternoon,” Stuart said. “I would watch programs like the Wilburn Brothers Show, the Porter Wagoner Show and the Del Reeves Country Carnival. It was the first vision I had of these artists. I had their records but I was mesmorized when I got to actually see them. Plus, their programs offered hope and for a little while, it took people away from their problems and gave them some entertainment.”

Soon, Stuart will join the ranks of country music television hosts as RFD-TV will air the Marty Stuart Show.

“I’m excited about the Marty Stuart Show,” he noted. “My wife, Connie Smith, will be a regular as will LeRoy Troy. Also, each week we will have a special guest. This show will remind people of those half-hour country music shows from the past. I’m thankful to RFD-TV for believing in this type of family entertainment. This show is going to be a lot of fun.”

In 1972, Stuart spent the summer performing with the Sullivan Family, a bluegrass gospel group from Alabama. His first big break came at the age of 12, when he joined Lester Flatt’s band, the Nashville Grass. He remained there until Flatt became ill in 1978.

“I don’t know of anybody else I could’ve started with and learned the ropes about survival and making it in the music business,” Stuart acknowledged. “Lester was bigger than life to me and he taught to an awful lot. I will always be grateful to him.”

Later, he spent six years in the band of Johnny Cash. In the decade of the 1980’s, Stuart recorded a handful of albums with minimal success. In 1989, he signed with MCA Records. The next year, his hit single “Hillbilly Rock” placed him in country music’s mainstream. Stuart’s other hits include “Little Things,” “Tempted” and “Burn Me Down.”

By Charles Haymes

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