2019 Artist-in-Residence: Marty Stuart
September 18: "Psychedelic Jam-Bo-Ree"
When he performed his first concert as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2019 artist-in-residence on September 11, Marty Stuart played, in its entirety, his critically acclaimed album The Pilgrim, which he released twenty years ago. For his second show, on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, he looked back even further in time to salute country music of the 1960s during a spirited “Psychedelic Jam-Bo-Ree.”
“Psychedelic means a mental state characterized by a profound sense of intensified sensory perception, and by extreme feelings of either euphoria or despair,” explained the museum’s Peter Cooper when introducing Stuart. “By this definition, every great country song is psychedelic.”
Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1958, Stuart grew up to a 1960s soundtrack. “It’s the ‘60s music that I carry in my heart, and it never changes,” he said.
During the two-hour show in the museum’s CMA Theater, Stuart channeled the sounds of that era, from honky-tonk to surf-rock, with his band the Fabulous Superlatives—bassist Chris Scruggs, drummer Harry Stinson, and guitarist Kenny Vaughan—and his guests: Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Gary Carter, Jim Lauderdale, Old Crow Medicine Show, Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie Smith, Buck Trent, and the Grand Ole Opry Square Dancers.
Smith performed “Ain’t Had No Lovin’” and “Burning a Hole in My Mind,” hits from 1966 and 1967, respectively. Lauderdale dazzled with renditions of “Halfway Down” and “The King of Broken Hearts,” which featured gorgeous pedal steel from Carter. New member Charlie Worsham led Old Crow Medicine Show through the playful stoner-gospel tune, “I Hope I’m Stoned When Jesus Takes Me Home,” before the raucous string band and Stuart played fan favorite “Wagon Wheel.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual artist-in-residence program, established in 2003, recognizes a musical master who has contributed a significant body of work to the American popular music canon. The artists are encouraged to use the museum’s stages as a blank canvas and present unique musical experiences that differ from their usual live performances.
Previous artists-in-residence include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith, Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Rosanne Cash, Jason Isbell, and Miranda Lambert.
Highlights from Stuart’s second concert included:
“Holding On to Nothin’”
This song was a Top Ten hit for Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton in 1968. Stuart recorded the song with banjo great Buck Trent, who spent more than a decade as a member of Wagoner’s band, for his 2012 album Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down. On Wednesday, Trent—the evening’s first guest—joined Stuart and the Superlatives for an impeccable rendition of the country classic.
Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives put a country spin on this surf-rock instrumental, a hit for the Surfaris in 1963. Vaughan and Stuart traded licks on acoustic guitar and mandolin, Scruggs slapped out a rubbery bass line, and Stinson replicated the song’s pounding drums by slapping his cheeks, to the delight of the audience, all while two go-go dancers shimmied behind the band.
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” was one of several songs McGuinn and Hillman performed with Stuart and the Superlatives in the CMA Theater Wednesday night.
Written by Bob Dylan, it is the opening track of the Byrds’ landmark 1968 country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. “Every time you listen to contemporary country music, or most any form of country music, you will find the soul of Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” said Stuart, who remembered buying the record for $1.50. “It was the first time I ever heard country music, honky-tonk music, gospel music, folk music, and bluegrass collide with rock & roll successfully. I loved it.”
Decades later, Stuart’s love for the album hasn’t faded. His own music continues to draw upon the same genres that collided on Sweetheart, and, as he and his guests proved on Wednesday, the sounds are just as vibrant and vital as ever.
Stuart returns to the museum’s CMA Theater for his final artist-in-residence performance on September 25.
Check out recaps from Marty Stuart's other Artist-in-Residence shows!