Marty Stuart Takes A Stand For Traditional Country Music

This appeared in the QC Times - July 14, 2011

Country singer Marty Stuart says he couldn't think of a better audience than truck drivers.

"Those concrete cowboys, those are the last of the outlaw Americans, you know? I love the truck driving world, I love truck driving songs," Stuart said by telephone from his tour bus while en route to Maine. "When I heard about this, I jumped on it."

Stuart is featured tonight during the 27th annual Truckers Jamboree at the Iowa 80 Truckstop outside Walcott.

The host of The Marty Stuart Show, a traditional country music showcase on the RFD-TV cable and satellite TV channel, said he'll bring on as many trucking songs as he can.

"No way around it," he said with a laugh. "One of the benefits of having a TV show is having so many songs. A TV show is a song monster, and we have some truck driving songs in the repertoire, so we'll pull it out and see what happens."

The 52-year-old Stuart, who played guitar in the bands of Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash, enjoyed his own radio success in the 1990s with 13 songs in country's top 40, including "Hillbilly Rock" and "Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best."

But by the end of the ‘90s, he decided to make a change in his sound.

"It started sounding the same to me," Stuart said. "It was not soul-satisfying, and I was starting to feel like a parody of myself."

With the last album in his contract with MCA Records, he released The Pilgrim in 1999, what he called a "a line-in-the-dirt return to the roots of country music."

Critically acclaimed if not commercially successful, The Pilgrim was the first of six traditional albums that Stuart has released with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives. [Not true. The Pilgrim was recorded with the Rock and Roll Cowboys.]

The most recent, Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions, was released in August and won him his fifth Grammy, for best country instrumental, and a nomination for the duet he performed with his wife, country legend Connie Smith.

Ghost Train had enough steam for Stuart to be featured recently on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Letterman's longtime bandleader, Paul Shaffer, appeared on Stuart's TV show in June.

The half-hour TV show, which premiered in 2008, has had some current artists such as Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley performing classic tunes.

"That gives us a place to play traditional country music," said Stuart, who recently concluded a six-year reign as president of the Country Music Hall of Fame. "We don't have to worry about country radio because that isn't part of the equation anymore. We have kind of a cool place to play from."

By D.Burke

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