“I’m a streamline lover; nobody touch my speed.”
That’s a line from “Streamline,” a bluesy track from the most recent album from Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning. Although in the context of the song, it extols the virtues of a “backwoods Romeo,” it also works well to describe Stuart’s band and their streamlined sound.
As the musical guest on the Late Show With David Letterman Wednesday night (January 28th), guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson (on snare drum with brushes) and upright-bass player Paul Martin all gathered around one microphone and delivered a short, sharp and shockingly great performance of “Streamline,” with Stuart at the helm, brandishing his mandolin like a weapon, even aiming the headstock directly at the camera at one point.
Letterman, who fumbled the band’s introduction a bit by referring to Stuart’s latest book of photography as American Badlands, instead of the correct title, American Ballads, made up for the flub after the quartet’s performance by explaining that “Badlands” is the name of a section in the book. (To Letterman’s credit, Badlands is also the title of a previous Stuart album of Native American ballads.)
Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, a double album that ranks among the best of 2014’s country releases, explores both traditional country music and gospel (hence the title), throwing blues, bluegrass, boogie-woogie, honky-tonk and more into the mix. As he has since the beginning of his career, which saw him playing mandolin in bluegrass icon Lester Flatt’s band as a 13 year old, Stuart continues to acknowledge the giants upon whose shoulders he and others have stood.
“The thing I noticed about the family of country music when I first came to town as a teenager was being endorsed by Lester Flatt as ‘that kid in Lester’s band [who] can actually play,'” the five-time Grammy winner tells Rolling Stone Country. “His seal of approval, walking into the Opry with him was like walking into the Vatican with the Pope. It gave me instant credibility. They cast long shadows, but they all were kind to me, every single one of them. They raised me as a kid coming into the tribe that they saw something in, so they invested in me and I took that very seriously.”