Marty Stuart; Honest Country
As it turned out, we lucked up and found our way into the Marty Stuart show Saturday. An old guitar pal of mine named Antonio called and had two extra tickets, so we jumped in the car and headed out for Shelby.
I did not realize just how historic this deal was. The small town of Shelby, N.C. has put together some kinda music vision with this Don Gibson theater. We stopped first at the local music store, Shelby Music Center, to get the low down. A fellow was at work on a guitar at the bench.
“Hey, I’m Dr. B. Tell me about the show tonight.”
“It’ll be good. That Kenny who picks the guitar with him is the hippest alt country cat around.”
“He’s a player for sure. Hard to beat Marty. You going?”
“I wish I could. Got a gig.”
“Tell Marty he’s real country.”
“I will. Whatdja say your name was?”
“Okay, Randy. I will, sure enough.”
This little town of Shelby has it going on. It is the home of Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. Saturday night Marty Stuart kicked off the Grand Opening of the Don Gibson Theater. I hope they bring him back when they open up the Earl Scruggs Museum, ’cause Randy is right. Marty Stuart is as real country as they come.
His Saturday show was a live country music history lesson. Marty started out with Lester Flatt at thirteen, played five years worth of music with Doc and Merle Watson in a six month stretch, and then played seven years with Johnny Cash before he struck out on his own at the ripe old age of twenty-two. I hear the strains of all these influences in his music. It was bluegrass and country and gospel all rolled into one. It was real.
One fellow summed up the show the best I heard. He had seen me play somewhere along the way, and came up and shook my hand. He’d never seen Marty Stuart and his band before. “Doc,” he said. “I believe if none of us had showed up that boy woulda still come to play just ’cause he loves it.”
I think that man was right. If you despair that true country is lost, take heart. Go see Marty Stuart ’cause it is alive and well. I think Marty decided a long time ago he wasn’t gonna aim to be some reclusive star, but a real musician for regular people, and that is what he is. For my money I’ll take an honest country music man over a marketing strategy manufactured ‘star’ any day.
And check out this little town of Shelby too. There must be something in the water there, ’cause it is home to both Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. Marty will always be a Mississippi boy, but I expect after Saturday’s historic show, Shelby would like to declare him their adopted young’un.
And man alive is he a mandolin player. He signed my gray mandolin case in big silver letters. It looks quite cool, and I couldn’t help but notice it matches our hair these days. My mentors always said to play my mandolin like Marty. Marty Stuart is still a young man, and he clearly respects his elders who have gone on before. I respect mine too, and they were right. I’ll always be a doc but I’m gonna continue to try to play it like Marty.
He sings of factory workers who’ve lost their jobs, poverty of the Lakota Indians, death and lost love, and fiddle tunes and good times too. His music shows the truth. Some of my doctor days can be mighty dark to travel, and his kind of music sees me through to go at it again. You can’t help but love anyone whose music makes your life better, and Marty Stuart’s sure speaks to me.
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