Marty Stuart Lets Loose At Late Night Jam

This appeared in The Tennessean - June 6, 2006

The CMA Music Festival is geared around contemporary country music. Nashville audiences don't normally cotton to shows that start after 9 p.m. And Marty Stuart doesn't at all mind being different.

"Musically, I want this to be more than the 'product' we get whacked over the head with for the rest of the week," Stuart said, contemplating his fifth annual, multi-artist Late Night Jam show, which kicks off Wednesday night at 11 p.m. at the Ryman. The show will include the country and bluegrass one might expect from Stuart, Connie Smith and Travis Tritt, along with some curve balls in the form of the jam band sounds of Don Chambers and GOAT, the gospel of the Fairfield Four, a percussion performance from Jim Brock and some plaintive singer-songwriter material from Kathy Mattea.

"We sometimes fall short of the title of 'Music City', " Stuart said. "In Nashville, we've got a license for any kind of music."

Recently, Stuart has been taking full advantage of that license. In the past two years, he has released a gospel album, a live bluegrass album and an Americana record. His swiveling 1990s have given way to a new century of less commercial, more musically satisfying efforts.

"I understand 'stardom' better than ever now. I had a good dose of it in the '90s, and I walked away from every bit of it. It's taken me five or six years to get used to the concept of 'No compromise' and to do the things that I want to be remembered for."

Lately Stuart has embarked on a remarkable period of creativity. He has two new albums finished -- one a career retrospective of duets with friends including Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Merle Haggard and George Jones, and the other a gospel album that picks up on the bluesy territory of 2005's Souls' Chapel. He's also working on two more albums, helping curate an exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum, working on a book, filming a documentary and preparing to host a regular show on XM Satellite Radio.

"I'm not tired. I'm just now getting fired up," he said. "I've been out in the wilderness and I feel like I've caught sight of the Promised Land."

By Peter Cooper

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