Marty Stuart Ignites A Blazing Hillbilly Fire!

This appeared in CountryBeat Magazine - April 1995

Northern California's biggest honky tonk, The Saddlerack, is jumping with cowboys two-stepping their lady loves around the dance floor beneath rafters that are hung with antique saddles.

Darkly handsome in a cropped black jacket that skims a rainbow-spangled belt and poured into tight faded denims ripped out at the knee, Marty Stuart is having a ball spinning around the stage to the good-time beat of "I Ain't Giving Up On Love" and "Western Girls."

"Before we go any further, how many hillbilly music fans we got here tonight?" he shouts, and the ensuing howls nearly set the saddles to swinging from the rafters. "Well, let's do something about it then!" he yells, jump-starting "Little Things" to fire things up again.

"Touch me-e-e-e!" he cries out, slapping both hands on his backside. The screams are deafening! Stopping the show, he turns his back to engage in an animated mock conversation with a band member as the audience continues to scream. Turning back to them, he gives a slow, wicked grin and drawls, "It ain't the right time--forget that song." (The audience responds with howls of frustration.) "Let's do this one instead," he yelps, kick-starting the rollicking "Kiss Me, I'm Gone."

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, cowboys and cowgirls, hoss and hosses!" he says with a laugh, then takes a moment to plug his current album, Love And Luck. "If you don't have a copy, you really need to go out and get one. I ain't kiddin' ya--it's a good record," he deadpans. "And I'll make you a deal," he adds, dark eyes crinkling with mirth. "You go out and buy a copy of this record, you take it home, and if you don't like it, if it's defective, send it to Travis Tritt and he'll give you your money back!" A flurry of screams nearly swallows up his last words.

Sweat trickling down the sides of his handsome face, lashes drifting low over eyes that smolder with quiet passion, Marty turns his soul inside out to embrace the tender, heartfelt romance of "That's What Love's About" and draw squeals of rapture from female fans.

Some blistering hoedown fiddle work by two-time world champion fiddler Dale Morris, Jr. has Marty hootin' and stompin' with unbridled glee and unleashes "yee-haw!" cowboy rowdiness from the crowd.

"Touch me-e-e-e!" he suddenly wails and, once again, the explosion of screams is ear-splitting. "I said, touch me-e-e-e, turn me on!" he howls, and the crowd goes wild. "And what?" he teases above their frenzied excitement. "And burn me down!" the crowd hollers as Marty plunges into a rousing performance of "Burn Me Down" that has the entire house shouting the chorus back at him.

Announcing that the CMA had asked him to write some of the speech for Merle Haggard's recent introduction into the Hall Of Fame, Marty declares, "I had no trouble doing that because I believe in Merle Haggard with all of my heart. In fact, if it hadn't been for guys like him and Buck Owens and Johnny Cash and Ray Price and people like that, we wouldn't have any kind of country music to talk about today." He then slides into an enthusiastic cover of Merle's "Swinging Doors."

"What the hell--let's keep goin'!" he barks above the rowdy ovation and goes honky tonkin' with "Okie From Muskogee" to send this crowd to redneck heaven as they sing every beloved word with him. A beefy cowboy saunters forth to shake Marty's hand and two security guards descend at once upon him from both sides. "He's all right," Marty assures them seriously in midsong.

"Man, you know what I was just thinkin' about?" Marty ponders aloud. "We ain't played a honky tonk in a long time and it's nice to be playing in a place where we don't have to shoot off smoke bombs and all that kind of stuff. I like gettin' right up in front of y'all--so if you like us, let us know. And if you think we suck, let us know too!" he chuckles.

To the infectious beat of "It Ain't Nothing But A Love Thing," Marty twirls and stomps his flashy-booted feet and lets rip a howl of joyous abandon as he boot-scoots to the stage front chorus-line style, with a couple of band members by his side.

And then, his heated gaze fixed upon his audience, he pours himself with unhurried sensuality into the sultry "Tempted" to set the blood to thrumming through the veins of every female present. Bathed in a moody red light, Marty waxes somber for a haunting recital of "Long Black Veil," hoisting his guitar high to pluck a mournful melody that nearly breaks the heart.

"The Whiskey Ain't Workin' " brings the fans to their feet to hoist their longnecks and sing along rowdily with him, and "Now That's Country" has Marty peeling off some scorching solo guitar lucks to further inflame their raucousness.

A tumultuous ovation brings Marty out for an encore performance of "Hillbilly Rock" to nearly blow the roof off the joint. Tossing has towel, he kicks it into overdrive and cranks out the second half of the song in frantic double-time to bring his high-energy show to a scorching wrap--and send cowboys and cowgirls howling into the darkness of night with a hillbilly fire burning brightly in their hearts.

Review written by Marianne Horner

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