.

Marty Stuart's 'Hillbilly' Answer to CMA Fest

LeAnn Rimes and rhinestones rule at Stuart's annual late night rave

Marty Stuart
Erika Goldring/Getty Images
June 6, 2014 8:00 AM ET

For decades before CMA Music Festival assumed its current, rebranded form, it was known as Fan Fair, a comparatively homier, humbler production that offered fans ample opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite stars. The original spirit of Fan Fair could be felt at Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam, held Wednesday night, and that was by design. Stuart positioned his multi-performer show at downtown Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium as a traditionalist alternative to the CMT Awards that kicked off two hours earlier directly across the street at the Bridgestone Arena, and to more or less everything else going on during the festival.

CMT Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

Stuart has been organizing the show, a benefit for MusicCares, for 13 years, and he never reveals the entire lineup ahead of time. “Do you trust me?” he asked the audience, as he kicked off the show with his flashily dressed band the Fabulous Superlatives, all three of whom would take a brief turn as front man by the end of the night.

There was a pronounced sense of familiarity to the proceedings, and no formal script whatsoever. Stuart, the jive-talking showman, bantered with his more solemn emcee, Grand Ole Opry host, WSM DJ and walking encyclopedia of country music history Eddie Stubbs, his band members and folks in the crowd, including the woman in the balcony who cheered especially long and loud after Stuart’s solo mandolin rendition of the standard “Orange Blossom Special.”

A big believer in making the show a multi-generational occasion, Stuart reminded the audience that he’d been given his first big musical break, on that same hallowed stage, at the age of 13. Then he brought on 9 year-old viral sensation Emi Sunshine, who tore up Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #6,” bending her notes and embellishing her phrasing with a vocal agility well beyond her years. The Opry Square Dancers, who executed rubber-legged moves at breakneck speed, had a couple of junior dancers along, and the smallest couldn’t have been out of preschool.

At the other end of the age spectrum were 76-year old veteran crooner-songwriter Jim Glaser, of the Glaser Brothers, and 78-year-old soul shouter Sam Moore, of Sam & Dave, both still in strikingly fine voice.  Moore not only did the song he was best known for, “Soul Man,” he even ventured into hardcore country territory, trading verses with Stuart on a rendition of George Jones’s “She Thinks I Still Care.”

Stuart’s wife, Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith, his early Nineties singing partner Travis Tritt and LeAnn Rimes were among the other familiar faces who took the stage, each performing at least one of their hits, in Smith’s case “Cincinnati, Ohio,” in Rimes’ the power ballad “I Need You” and in Tritt’s the feel-good tune “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” among others. Altogether, it made for a one-of-a-kind unofficial kickoff to what Stuart pointedly and playfully called “Hillbilly Music Week.”

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com