Spending Time With Marty Stuart

This appeared in RFD-TV's The Magazine - May/June 2009

RFD-TV The Magazine caught up with Marty Stuart inside his studio, surrounded by his well-known collection of memorabilia from the greatest in country music, to talk about the first season success of The Marty Stuart Show:

Ralna: How do you feel about the first season tapings of The Marty Stuart Show?

Marty: The vision that I carried around for the last few years turned out to be exactly what this show is and the response from people has been overwhelming.

Ralna: What started the vision of this show in your mind?

Marty: The country music industry is so far out of balance. I think it's great that Kenny Chesney is filling up stadiums and Taylor Swift is doing her thing. We need that. It's good for commerce and good for visibility on the world stage. The roots of country music are being over-shadowed. I was traveling along the back roads one day and I thought, "nobody's talking to these people." Merle Haggard called them "The forgotten people." It made me want to bring traditional country music back to these people, to my people.

Ralna: How did the old Porter Wagoner Show inspire your show?

Marty: I went back to the feeling I had as a child. The first time that I ever felt the pure power of music was in the summer of 1964. I was five years old. Saturday afternoons were the time of week I spent with my Daddy. He was a factory worker and had Saturdays off. The thing we shared a common love for was country music. Late afternoons on Saturdays, much like you do on RFD-TV, we got to see The Porter Wagoner Show, Flatt & Scruggs, and The Wilburn Brothers. Those 30-minute syndicated shows played on our local station. In 1964, there were three civil rights workers murdered in my hometown. The eyes of the world drew down on Philadelphia, Mississippi. There was so much dissension in our town, confusion, hate. Miss Jimmy, the black lady I loved, couldn't come keep us any more. I couldn't hang out and watch the black musicians play in town. Dr. Martin Luther King came to our town and freedom marched. It was really a terrible time. But on Saturday afternoons when Porter Wagoner and all those shows came on, it lifted my spirits. Their music was so happy. It made everything seem normal and okay and happy again. And the minute they went off the air, it was like a tangible hole hit the room again and the heaviness returned and reality set back in. I was longing for that kind of feeling again. And, I wanted to be a contributor to that feeling.

Ralna: This must be why you chose RFD-TV as a home for your show?

Marty: The way I discovered RFD-TV was The Porter Wagoner TV Show. It was the day that war was declared on Iraq. We had been watching CNN all day going down the road in my bus. All we talked about all day was war. I finally got sick to my stomach and went to lie down in the back of the bus. When I got up, we were at the concert venue. Everybody was off the bus and Porter was on TV. I thought one of the guys brought a DVD from home. Come to find out, it was the RFD-TV re-run of The Porter Wagoner Show. I said, "What am I watching?" It made me feel like I did when I was a little boy again to watch Porter. Even though there is a war going on, he tells me everything is going to be okay. I made myself a vow to go see Porter the minute I got home, and I did. I knocked on his door and fifteen minutes in, I knew I had to make a record with Porter, which I did, and it became his last album. It was that RFD experience that tipped me off to that whole thing. I said, "I've got to be a part of this channel. Whoever this man is that has the vision for this channel, I have to go see about it because that is where my heart is."

Ralna: What did you enjoy most about producing each show?

Marty: As a bandleader, I enjoyed watching the Fabulous Superlatives find a different level as a band and performers. I enjoyed watching Leroy Troy every single week. We never talked about what he was going to do until it was time to walk onto the stage and I'd ask him, "What are you going to do" and he'd tell me and we'd walk out and wing it. I enjoyed watching Connie light up the room and light up the telephones. And, I enjoyed watching people that thought traditional country music was dead and never to be seen or heard from again walk through that door.

Ralna: What other projects are you committed to besides the show?

Marty: Seven albums in pre-production, working on a new book, my museum exhibit Sparkle and Twang opens at the Gene Autry Museum April 15, working on a series of events in my home state of Mississippi to raise the awareness of the musical culture in Mississippi.

Ralna: Who are the primary people that taught you to dream and inspired you in your career?

Marty: I was a natural born dreamer. The people around me always taught me that the sky was the limit. Merle Haggard is one of my favorite people to dream with. I love dreaming with Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash taught me to be a fearless dreamer. If he dreamed up something and got it set down in his heart, even if he knew it wouldn't sell tickets or records, he did it anyway, because his heart told him to. That's the greatest thing I learned from Johnny Cash ... you must be fearless when it comes to your dreaming and creating.

Ralna: What can our viewers look forward to next season?

Marty: We already have our first confirmed guest for Season 2 and it's Dolly Parton. She's already called in the songs she wants to sing!

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