Five-time GRAMMY Award-winning Marty Stuart took his GRAMMY Award-nominated Fabulous Superlatives on the road...Out West...promoting their new Album entitled, "Way Out West", of which Marty Stuart questions with belief, “Good songs, good band, good studio, good instruments...and something usually happens, right?”
Marty nailed that one on the head. He should have included good harmony and hair - his silver coif, a defining feature.
Marty found himself way out west in California, a place he admits a fasciation, this allure the basis of their new album. Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage seemed perfect venue to park their professional tour bus out front, right beside Deke Dickerson’s 1993 Gold Fleetwood Cadillac with newly logged miles from LA.
The songs off "Way Out West" come with good story; tales from traveling West and interactions with greats along the way, served in two live formats: rock’n’roll and country-style. Ear candy for the fortunate folk who scored tickets to the back-to-back SOLD OUT shows. Saturday night featured an exceptional electric set while Sunday offered the less amped, unrefined acoustic version – both distinct and lively in their own right, showcasing raw talent in an intimate setting.
Hollywood meets Nashville in Marty Stuart. People and places branded Marty; he’s taking his Superlatives out for the ride of their lives touring 2018. They started way out West and will end up way East. This jam packed road trip is one to make him and his Superlatives legendary. Pride in preserving traditional country music yet melding-in new sound, Nashville country meets California surf on their strings.
Type in :sundown in Nashville: in a Google search this time of year and 4:59PM pops up.
More time to sweep broken dreams off streets. Marty is able to do something with his lyrics that pertain to everyone, “from whatever road you’ve been down” the sign says the same thing, ‘Welcome to Nashville.’ He takes the mystique and ensures you, it shits too.
SATURDAY NIGHT: ELECTRIC SET
Saturday’s electric night brought a whole lotta rock’n’roll. It was a more curated set, admittedly so, they hadn’t a clue how their Sunday acoustic set would come together...” We don’t have a clue what we’re gonna do, but it’ll be alright”. Sunday ended with an encore and everyone on their feet.
“It's Saturday night, turn the Hillbillies loose!” The electric set had a whole lot goin’ on - Cuz was crushin’ it on the strings! He was a guitar slayin’ rockstar dressed in country-western with a stern ‘don’t fuck with me’ stare. It works for him.
I came into this Saturday electric session after enjoying a dreamy afternoon catching waves off Santa Cruz on my 8’6” Mystic. I was easily gettin’ down with Superlative psychedelic surf tunes, totally feeling the love of the perfect sun that had just set upon myself and fellow babes.
From surf song to ballad, the demonstrated versatility is sure to capture a wider audience. The harmony of these boys is a beautiful thing. Spaghetti Western. More like Rigatoni.
Kenny Vaughan rocks a couple of his numbers; He’s s a boot-scootin’ toe-heelin’ thumb-under-the-belt-bucklin’ guitar-spankin’ sheer good ole time. I mean Cuz! To pull out a double neck and play guitar like that...hot damn! He’s fast like that. I would love to see a guitar/mandolin-OFF between Cuz and Marty. Sam Hoffman said, “He’s the Rick Derringer of Country Western.” Guaranteed he knows the Hoochie Koo too. Rock ‘n’ Roll man. And, Mariachi like Grady Martin in his classic “El Paso.”
Country to psychedelic, these guys are taking us on a trip, showing their range....they’re not just country. They’re bad like rock ’n’ roll, taking green, blue and black pills - getting straight fucked-up and hitting the road...seeing little green men and the Big Chief...“Way Out West.” Moral of the story...listen to Marty Stuart and DON’T TAKE PILLS!
Even on electric night, Marty makes magic on the mandolin. The pitch, tone so good and so pure, wide flux range resonating emotion, transporting to a place of desolation, yet with so much hope. He plays fiddle too...and does a tribute to Johnny Cash’s 50 year date since playing at Folsom Prison with Memphis Gospel song “Greystone Chapel.”
SUNDAY NIGHT: ACOUSTIC SET
Acoustic night was a showcase of sure skill. Marty plays a mean mandolin, Professor Scruggs on the bass, and Cousin Kenny on the guitar. That would be Kenny Vaughan, Cuz for short, and he is a force...an ensemble-playing force who will take his stimulating solo, then step back for the song and the band, never overpowering. And yes, he hammers both frets on the double-neck; He pulled this trick during the electric Saturday set.
A front row ticket to this string-strummin’ group means a licentious view of sadistically tickled strings. To watch the finger work of these guys was truly incredible. Marty’s mandolin to “Running Down A Dream” was unravelin’! High frequency shift evokes compelling joy. He’s double-hand, ten-fingered-ly ensuring songs like that will live forever.
Each of the guys had their turn singing their part, and each of them seemed to eat it up. Handsome Harry Stinson on the boom-boom drum with a record holding O in OklahOOOOOOOOOOO-MA! Cuz sings about Whiskey, and Professor Scruggs sneaks in an extra verse from his infamous YouTube rendition of “Old Souls Like You and Me” while plucking his classic double base.
No shame in name game, Marty told stories of his experiences with George Jones, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Lester Flatt. All these guys are a part of his history, the experiences he’s shared with them has left marks. They’ve further branded Marty Stuart.
Marty tells of his last experience with Johnny Cash, his next-door neighbor. Four days before Cash’s passing, they shared a beautiful afternoon together, sharing Folsom prison, writing Johnny’s last ever song and capturing this last precious moment in a photograph.
Alone on stage, Marty prefaces the next song - a Johnny Cash song. “My favorite song he’s ever wrote, probably nobody’s ever heard before, and it’s a dandy.” The air becomes heavy as “Walls of a Prison” makes the room small. Marty’s voice strong, conveying somber emotion.
Hoping the moment continues, I’m ecstatic he continues his tales with Johnny Cash, going on to explain how the space between his and Cash’s home came to be. A fire in Roy Orbison’s home: “His sons were playing with hairspray and a cigarette lighter and caught on fire. Took the house, took the boys lives. And Roy never wanted to live there again, of course, so he sold the piece of property to Johnny for a dollar.” I love the way Marty is crafting this story, as a bit of history passed from the ages only a fortunate few get to hear. “John promised that he would never build anything that wouldn’t put life back into the earth. His version of life back into the earth was fruit trees. He put out apple trees, pear trees, pecan trees, berry bushes, fig bushes. He has a beautiful cathedral of fruit trees.”
The purpose of this story segued into the song he wrote for Johnny, one he struggled to write.
"Every Spring, when the blossom started comin’ over this trees, I could always count on gettin’ a visit from the crows. I don’t know about you guys, but I love crows because they are weird strange birds and they dress like Johnny Cash.” He talked about an obstinate crow; “He kinda reminded me of JR, that's what I called him, ornery.”
“Dark Bird” with memorable chords, showcases monumental Johnny Cash love, and with a “Why not”, he transitions guitar into Johnny Cash classics.
OPENING ACT: DEKE DICKERSON
Deke Dickerson opened both nights. Deke is a character. He loves to talk and shares a story of the time Johnny Knoxville called his LA phoneline with some work, allowing a window of 2 weeks to complete. “He called me up and said...Deke, I have 11 songs for a new movie that I want you to do. Here’s the first scene, this guy gets hit in the testicles - you have to compose an acoustic guitar sort of folky song around that.” Crowd laughter...“OK”, he shares, “I can do that.” The story continues...“Now this next scene, this guy gets hit in the testicles and we want like a southern rock song around it”. More laughter, “Alright, I can do that.” He then gets asked to compose for the closing credits: “It’s a blooper reel of people getting hit in the testicles.” “Anyway, Johnny Knoxville and I sort of bonded over our love for sick and twisted old country western tunes.”
He then goes onto play a sick and twisted tune by Eddie Noak called “Psycho.” It’s a weird tune totally sick and twisted, but this is what I mean about Deke...he’s a character!
A band of Superlatives and a fantastic silver coif, something usually happens. Guaranteed more stories are made on this 2018 tour. Looking to gain new, more diverse audience, the crowd majority, both Saturday and Sunday, proved to be longtime Marty Stuart fans - Yet he and his fab Superlatives gained a new one...this gal.
Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives Electric Setlist:
"Whole Lotta Highway"
"Country Boy Rock & Roll"
"Country Music Got A Hold On Me"
"Hot Like That"
"You're Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone"
"Way Out West"
"Never Gonna Do It Again"
"Pretty Boy Floyd"
"He Was A Friend Of Mine"
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives Acoustic Setlist:
"Sundown in Nashville"
"Miss R.R. Blues"
"Cousin Kenny Solo - Whiskey"
"Old Old House"
"Pretty Boy Floyd"
"Blue Moon of KY"
"Running Down A Dream"
"Walls of a Prison"
"BAJA" (Deke Dickerson - ACU)
"Whole Lotta Hi-Way"
"Time Don’t Wait"
All Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives photos credited to Elizabeth Lauer