Marty Stuart is country music’s renaissance man. He can still put on a show that shakes American music at its roots. And he tours with a firecracker band that’s aptly named His Fabulous Superlatives.
Stuart enjoyed a four-year run of country hits in the early 1990s, but he’s never rested on his laurels. In recent years, he’s done some of his best work in bluegrass, gospel and, yes, country genres.
At 13, the Mississippi native joined bluegrass legend Lester Flatt’s band. From 1979-85, he played in Johnny Cash’s group. There are few musicians who have performed with more legends. And Stuart knows he’s experiencing history. His memorabilia collection is at 20,000 pieces and has been exhibited at prominent museums.
Tonight at the Majestic Theatre, Stuart and his cohorts will rock the house. Guaranteed.
Q: On public radio recently, you were at a Johnny Cash tribute in Mississippi and you said, “There’s two kinds of people: Ones who are already Johnny Cash fans and ones who will be.” Perfect quote.
Stuart: That came up in the moment. But years and years ago, I said, “There are two people you can never count out 1,000 years from now. That’s Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.”
Q: Is it still fun touring?
Stuart: It’s a part of my life. There’s something about the response from an audience that I love.
Q: At this point in your career, your band could go in so many different directions: traditional country, country rock, bluegrass, gospel, blues …
Stuart: It’s wonderful to have that much artillery. There are certain songs – some of my hits – that I play each night. Then again, there are lots of things I do in the moment that are not planned. It’s the roots of American music throughout the whole concert.
Q: You haven’t been on the country charts for several years, but you still make several stellar, creative albums. Country audiences usually like familiar material. How do you deal with that in concert?
Stuart: I think the audience trusts me enough that if I do break out it’s probably going to be entertaining. It’s a wonderful time in my creative life.
Q: As a producer, you helped Porter Wagoner make one of his finest albums in the last year of his life.
Stuart: It felt like a divine mission.
Q: Your personal collection of memorabilia is so big and so extensive it’s mindboggling.
Stuart: (Country music history) was a part of the world I was in. As people got older and times changed, rhinestone suits and certain guitars and some artifacts went out of style. I view country as a strand of American culture.
Q: Given the stars you’ve played with and your solo success, it’s been a very good life.
Stuart: It looks like one big blessing. It was a dream I had as a little boy, and I’ve gotten to do what was in my heart to do. It’s still rewarding. It’s never been about the past. It’s always about taking the whole story forward.
Q: You started touring at such a young age (13). What did your family think?
Stuart: They knew this was what I was going to do. Had it not been the right circumstances and the right people, they never would have let me go. But I never had enough sense to be scared. I was glad to be there.