Country Music Legend Marty Stuart Coming To Paducah

This appeared in The Southern Illinoisan - January 1, 2013

Country music is really a pretty simple process. A singer takes a song, records it in a studio and hopes it gets so popular that it becomes a hit, leading to big concert tours and massive merchandise sales. A mountain of money is accumulated and the person moves from the Nashville slums to a mansion in the suburbs.

While most of the material being created is mindless cookie-cutter fluff, occasionally a tune is created that touches someone in a profound way, which is exactly what Marty Stuart did with “Me & Hank & Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” It penetrated to the very soul of the late Irene Smith.

After hearing the song, Smith contacted Stuart through a friend in Music City and a meeting was arranged. Stuart had built a reputation as an ambassador and memorabilia preservationist for country music. Because he had worked with many legends, he is viewed as a bridge from the contemporary industry to its glorious past.

Smith had to witness firsthand that Stuart’s incredible pedigree was genuine and not media propaganda. A lengthy conversation during a meal in Texas confirmed Stuart was the real deal.

Smith was very apprehensive because so many people had taken advantage of her family through the years. She was the sister of Hank Williams and had a motherload of relics she wanted to ensure received their place in country music history, from his original birth and death certificates to extremely personal correspondence with Fred Rose and the original manuscript for “Cold Cold Heart.”

Stuart purchased the valuable link to country music’s most important roots. Most of the unexpected treasure was recently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a shrine in which Williams was an inaugural member.

A native of Mississippi, the 54-year-old Stuart was a country music prodigy. He joined the road band of Lester Flatt in 1972, after Flatt broke away from longtime partner Earl Scruggs. Flatt and Scruggs had been band members of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass.

Failing health forced Flatt into retirement in 1978. Stuart played briefly for iconic musicians Doc Watson and Vassar Clements, before joining the road band of Johnny Cash, from 1979-83. He became close friends with Cash, was instrumental in preserving his legacy through photographs and recordings and was married to his daughter, Cindy, for five years.

Honing his skills in two legendary bands for more than a decade, Stuart laid the foundation for a successful solo career, which started in 1985 and produced hits like “Tempted,” “Hillbilly Rock,” “Burn Me Down,” “Western Girls” and “Little Things.”

Stuart and his band, The Fabulous Superlatives, will be in concert at  on Friday, Jan. 25 at The Carson Center in Paducah.

In one of the most popular tales of modern country music, when he was a little boy, Stuart’s mother took him to see a Connie Smith concert. During the event, he told his mother, “One day I’m going to marry her.” It took more than two decades, but Stuart was true to his word. He married the “Once a Day” singer in 1997. She will be the opening act at the Paducah show.

Smith, the newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Stuart are both members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Stuart displays his passion for consciously carrying the touch for traditional country music on his latest recording, Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions). It is packed full of songs about a gambler, a preacher, thieves and a wino, wrapped around themes of death, sin and redemption.

Stuart is also the host of The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV. The weekly Saturday night 30-minute episodes have been the most popular program on the cable television network for the past two years.

The national audience allows the singer to showcase his incredible band, consisting of Kenny Vaughan, Paul Martin and Harry Stinson.

By Vince Hoffard

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