Marty Stuart Brings 'Blue-Collared' Country Music To Barter's Stage

This appeared on - January 16, 2014

Marty Stuart performs like rhinestones shine on a Porter Wagoner suit.

Stuart sparkles with pure country charm and charisma.

See Stuart shine from the hallowed stage of Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. on January 18. Backed by his band The Fabulous Superlatives, they’re as hot as bacon grease poppin’ in granny’s gravy-sizzling iron skillet.

“The country music I love to hear,” said Stuart by phone on Wednesday from Nashville, Tennessee, “when you drop the needle on the record you know, ‘oh yeah, that’s country music.”

Well, that’s Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives, no-doubt-about-it country music. He formed the Fabulous Superlatives in 2001. “Cuzzin’” Kenny Vaughan plays lead guitar like a Nudie suit-wearing Tar-zan of the jungle; he’s wild, man, wild.

"I love getting behind Kenny when he’s pouring it on,” Stuart said. “Oh yeah, I’d buy a ticket to hear Cousin’ Kenny play.”

Vaughan’s ideal for Stuart’s sharp dressed and hard-honking band.

“We play blue-collared country music," said Vaughan. "We keep it pretty close to the ground."

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Martin complements Stuart’s gut-busting Telecaster on the doghouse bass. Harry Stinson keeps the band’s steady rolling rhythmic time on the drums.

"Here's the great thing about playing with Marty Stuart," Vaughan said. "Sometimes after opening for one of those (latest, greatest so-called country artists), we'll be back in the bus after a show. We'll fall down on our knees to pray, 'thank you, Jesus, for letting us be the Fabulous Superlatives and not have to be those people.'"

Stuart laughed when he heard Vaughan’s quote.

“That’s right. It’s like the Lee Greenwood song,” Stuart said, then added with an impromptu sung line, “I’m proud to be in the Fabulous Superlatives where at least I know I’m free! It’s an honor to play in this band.”

Altogether, Stuart and the Superlatives illustrate what country music was, still can be and perhaps one day will again embrace. They’re country to the core and play with prodigious heart and soul and dignity intact.

“Traditional country music is alive and well in the 21st century,” Stuart said. “It’s not a museum piece. Just because it’s not played on the radio, so what?”

Alas, it’s doubtful that a single Fender Telecaster note-bending country tune from either of Stuart’s forthcoming albums will play on mainstream country radio. Stuart remains prolific as he charges forth with heritage in his heart, talent in his soul and vision to light the way.

“We are one song away from mixing and mastering Nashville, Vol. 2,” Stuart said. “We have the follow-up to Souls' Chapel coming and an instrumental album, too.”

Expect them to light up the albums like a sea of sparkly Porter Wagoner suits. Look them to carry that look and sound to the Barter stage, too. When Stuart and company walk on stage, fans will not have to wonder as to who’s about to entertain. They rock country bling.

“It’s costuming,” Stuart said. “It’s theater. Those clothes are timeless.”

So, presenting Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives, country music tuned to the key of cool.

“It’s a band of a lifetime,” Stuart said. “When you look at the legacy bands of country music — the Strangers, the Buckaroos, the Tennessee Three — I can totally see the Superlatives right there with them. It’s a legacy band.”

By Tom Netherland

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