Marty Stuart Values Country History

The origin of this article is unknown - November 19, 1993

Few in Nashville value their connection to country music's history more than Marty Stuart. After all, we're talking about a man who maintains a warehouse crammed with country souvenirs and artifacts. On stage, Stuart delivers a hybrid of bluegrass, rockabilly and blues on guitars that once belonged to the likes of Hank Williams and Lester Flatt.

It's a natural assignment for a musician who, as a child in Mississippi, threw away his "Meet The Beatles" album after hearing the music of bluegrass giants Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. By age 13, Stuart was playing mandolin at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville as a sideman in Flatt's touring band.

After Flatt's death in 1979, Stuart performed in the bands of bluegrass-fusion fiddler Vassar Clements and guitar virtuoso Doc Watson. Those gigs and a six-year assignment with Johnny Cash would define the renegade spirit of 'Stuart's solo career.

Despite a highly regarded 1982 solo debut on the Sugar Hill label, that career took some time to get off the ground. It wasn't until his 1989 breakthrough album and single "Hillbilly Rock" that Stuart finally began to court mainstream recognition. Two other albums would follow: "Tempted" (1991) and last year's "This One's Gonna Hurt You."

Helping to raise his profile were hit duets with Travis Tritt on "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' " and "This One's Gonna Hurt You (For A Long, Long Time)," which resulted in a Grammy, vocal-event-of-the-year honors from the Country Music Association and last year's blockbuster "No Hats" tour.

Despite his reputation as a purist, the 34-year old Stuart doesn't have qualms about basking in big-time success. His current tour, dubbed "The Marty Party," combines the atmosphere of old-fashioned festival shows with such outlandish props as a huge inflatable rocket ship.

While not as vocal in his criticism as "No Hats" partner Tritt, Stuart has expressed concern that such acts as Garth Brooks have watered down country music too much in exchange for across-the-board acceptance. He doesn't believe country music should necessarily offer something for everyone.

Still, he generally likes what he sees. "It's nice to see people wearing cowboy hats and cowboy shirts and cowboy boots and dancing line dances and singing country songs."

Knight-Ridder News Service

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