Country troubadour and multi-instrumentalist Marty Stuart
How He Got His Start
New traditionalist Marty Stuart is one of the genre’s most eclectic musicians, moving among honky tonk, rockabilly, country-rock, traditional country and bluegrass with ease, and with his own style and voice intact. Stuart was born in Philadelphia – the one in Mississippi, not Pennsylvania – in 1958, and grew up obsessed with country music. He learned guitar and mandolin as a child and by age 12 was performing with a bluegrass group. At 13 he left home when he joined Lester Flatt’s band Nashville Grass, where he expanded his prowess to fiddle. Following Flatt’s decision to disband the group due to his declining health in 1978, Stuart went on to work with Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, and in 1980 he joined Johnny Cash’s band. Stuart worked with Cash for five years, during which he participated in the Class of ’55 sessions with Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He also married Cash’s daughter Cindy, a union that lasted until 1988.
Stuart manages to balance bluegrass, honky tonk, blues, rockabilly, gospel, gentle folk and rowdy country, often within the same album
“’Hangman,’ co-written with (Johnny) Cash, is a spooky ballad in the old-school storytelling tradition; while Stuart does a fine job singing it, one can hear Cash’s ghost rambling through the lyrics.” – The All Music Guide in a review of Stuart’s album Ghost Train
“Working with Marty and the Superlatives was a blast, and it was fast! Great guitars, great grooves, great vocals, they just have it all. This record is one of my favorite things I have ever been involved with.” – Producer Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on Stuart’s upcoming album
But wait, there’s more
Though he released his first solo album in 1979, it wasn’t until the ’90s that Stuart really started to hit his stride. In 1990, “Hillbilly Rock” from the album of the same name became his first Top Ten hit on the Country charts. He’s worked with Travis Tritt, Mavis Staples, and his wife, country legend Connie Smith. He first saw Smith as a youngster when she performed a concert, and reportedly told his mother he would marry her someday. He was also a key member of the backing band for Cash’s Unchained, the second album in Cash’s American trilogy, which brought the Man in Black back to the forefront of country music. A consummate showman, Stuart’s party-hearty image is accentuated with a wardrobe of rhinestone-laden suits. The Grand Ole Opry star has won five Grammy awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Americana Music Association, and he’s also a country music archivist and photographer.
Despite his love and reverence for traditional country sounds, Stuart manages to sound contemporary without becoming country pop. Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, have recorded a new album, his first since 2014. Inspired by the Golden State of California, Way Out West will be released on March 10. Growing up, Stuart was taken by the mystique of the Golden State: the culture, the movies and the music. “Everything that came out of California captivated my kid mind in Mississippi,” says Stuart. “If you go and sit by yourself in the middle of the Mojave Desert at sundown and you’re still the same person the next morning when the sun comes up, I’d be greatly surprised. It is that spirit world of the West that enchants me.” The album’s 15 tracks include newly written originals, instrumentals and rare covers like the Benny Goodman-penned “Air Mail Special,” and “Lost on the Desert,” once recorded by Johnny Cash.
Date and time
January 28, 8 p.m.
Leelanau Sands Casino, Peshawbestown
$30. Go to TicketMaster.com