Cool Country Comes To Town

This appeared on - January 18, 2007

A few months ago, I had the privilege of seeing Marty Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. Not only is Stuart an electrifying performer, he's a great guitarist, and his lead guitar player — Kenny Vaughan, who wears Elvis Costello glasses and looks like he's a member of the circa-1967 Zombies — is even better. Stuart and his band perform Sunday at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, with an opening act who's no slouch either — vocalist Pam Tillis.

When Stuart and his hotshot trio launch into some of the gospel-tinged country from their Souls' Chapel album, the four-part harmonies will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. They're that good.

A singular talent

Stuart, who began his professional career at age 13 playing mandolin with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt, recorded and toured with Doc and Merle Watson and Johnny Cash — all before he was 20. He's one of country's most interesting iconoclasts, young enough to like and understand rock 'n' roll, and electric dance music, and smart enough to appreciate its important roots in acoustic mountain music.

He's equally adept at both.

Stuart's other passion is the visual side of his cultural history. He's a published photographer, and has one of the world's largest collections of country music memorabilia, including hundreds of vintage guitars and hand-made Nudie stage suits. He also owns Hank Williams' hand-written lyrics to "Your Cheatin' Heart" and the last pair of boots worn by Patsy Cline.

By Bill DeYoung

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