Stuart Will Bring His Passion For Music To Fair

This appeared in the Wetzel Chronicle - August 13, 2008

Preserving American music is such a passion for Marty Stuart that he talks about it in Biblical proportions.

“A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous,” says Isaiah 10:21-22.

That is a passage cited by Stuart about how traditional country music will always prevail. “When it (country music) chases pop trends, when it dresses up and tries to go to town, it loses its power, its authenticity. It always enjoys a surge of success when it tries to cross over, but it soon sounds like everything else and that success evaporates,” said Stuart.

As for the current state of country music, Stuart says, “It’s probably healthier than it appears to most people.” He said artists such as Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, and Keith Urban are winning fans for country music that wouldn’t have heard it otherwise. “I think the roots system is in good hands,” he declared. “Times do change, but I think it is important for us as Americans to preserve our culture and don’t let it get too far left behind.”

The roots of country music, or perhaps more accurately American music, are of great concern to Stuart, so much so that he has one of the largest and most revered private music memorabilia collections. That history, titled Sparkle and Twang, Marty Stuart’s American Music Odyssey, is currently on its own tour. It will be within easy driving distance for local music history lovers October 31 to March 1 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. It includes an astounding array of performance costumes, accessories, personal letters, instruments, and handwritten lyrics that include Hank Williams Sr.’s “Your Cold Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Johnny Cash’s handwritten lyrics for “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Man in Black”.

“It is the roots of American music that gives American music its power and force,” said Stuart who says country and bluegrass music is more entwined with rhythm and blues and African-American music than most people realize. They often share a train rhythm and the themes of struggle and heartache.

Stuart, a student and keeper of music history, says his show at Town and Country Days August 16 will be a “country show for a country town”. He will perform everything from the hits that got him on the radio like “Hillbilly Rock”, “Burn Me Down”, and “Tempted” to some new songs and old favorites. The styles of music might range from country to bluegrass to gospel to rock, but he assures it will all be country-American music.

Stuart’s stop in Wetzel County is one of about 90 dates on his summer tour, but this fall he will team up with long-time friend Travis Tritt to do eight acoustic sets. Their duets of “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin,” “This One’s Gonna Hurt You (For A Long, Long Time)," and “Honky Tonkin’s What I Do Best” reached numbers two, seven, and 23, respectively, on the country charts. They haven’t recorded any new songs together but Stuart said, “We’ve talked about it. We’re actually looking for songs right now."

When the magic song appears we’ll find the magic microphone.”

For now the magic will have to take place on stages across America, like the one at the Wetzel County 4-H grounds, three miles east of New Martinsville on W.Va. 7, as Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives bring their American music symphony to the American people. Stuart will play two shows 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday to close out the local fair. “I’m looking forward to it,” said the front man of his “band of a lifetime.”

By Amy Witschey

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