Archives for category: Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives

photo – Brad Hardisty

After much thought, I really wanted to salute a few key individuals for perpetuating Nashville as Music City. I could have written about 100 individuals both musicians and business people that make things happen and gone into Classical Music, Christian Music and Gospel Music, but, in the end, I needed to break this down to four people from different directions musically that make NashvilleMusic City” and give way more than they take from the community.

For those that live here, you may understand what I am talking about, but, for those from all over the world, maybe I will open a few eyes and ears.

For any number of reasons, I could have written about Little Jimmy Dickens, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton,  Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Little Richard, Elizabeth Cook, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, okay I could go on. You may agree with my list or you may not. These are whom I call four essential pillars that hold up through thick and thin and inspire others to create and grow in the Nashville community.

Marty Stuart supporting band member Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb’s Music Store CD Release Party, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marty Stuart, born September 30, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA, has been one of country music‘s most eclectic artists, performing and recording diverse types of country music.

He is of French, English, Choctaw, and Colombian descent.

In 1979, when Lester Flatt died. Stuart pushed forward and worked with fiddler Vassar Clements. He also worked with guitarist Doc Watson. In 1980, he joined Johnny Cash‘s backing band. The previous year, Stuart made his first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends, on Ridge Runner Records

In 1985, Stuart accompanied Johnny Cash to Memphis and played on the “Class of ’55” album that also featured Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. At the end of the session Perkins presented him with his guitar.

When does Marty become a Patron Saint? I believe it started when he had a heated run-in with Columbia Records when they dropped Johnny Cash from their roster. When he stuck up for the “Man in Black” it cost Marty his own album, Let There Be Country which Columbia decided not to release at that point. With Marty, principal comes before dollar signs.

Marty has performed with the best of the best, Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Travis Tritt to name a few. Marty saw his first solo success with Hillbilly Rock on MCA Records.

Marty contributed to the AIDS benefit album, Red Hot + County.

Marty’s interest in the heritage of Country Music lead to the showing of his private collection of music memorabilia at the Tennessee State Museum in 2007 as “ Sparkle & Twang : Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey” in 2008.

Marty Stuart has published two books of photographs he has taken of some of Country Music’s  most historic Artists including, “Country Music: The Masters” with some of the final photos of Johnny Cash.

Lately, Marty has been the touchstone to Neo-Country proudly wearing the badge of Nashville past bringing classic country into the future with his last two recordings, Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions) and Nashville Vol. 1: Tear The Woodpile Down.

Marty’s vast knowledge of the history of Country Music and support of classic artists such as Porter Wagoner despite the lack of Nashville label interest has helped to perpetuate what the outside world considers to be true blue Nashville Country.

Buddy Miller stands at the crossroads of the past and the future as the Godfather of what is now known as Americana, which encompasses everything from old time gospel music to red dirt Country.

Buddy has managed to put a canons worth of Gospel, Country tinged rock, and the most original of tracks out of his own living room with his wife, Julie Miller.  Buddy is a great musician, songwriter, producer and collaborator. I believe that last skill is what makes Buddy one of the four patron saints. A great collaborator where all are welcome under his tent that bring something to this new idiom described as Americana.

Buddy is the house band leader for The Americana Music Awards every year, able to play with just about every artist including Robert Plant who when he decided to put together his Band of Joy project, Buddy Miller was his only choice for bandleader. Buddy put together a band of Nashville all-stars that included Darrell Scott as the utility man on everything from fretless banjo to pedal steel.

Last year’s Majestic Silver Strings featured guitarists Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz, with guest vocalists including Emmylou Harris.

To top that, Buddy is releasing on Black Friday, a new album with Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim.

Buddy’s ability to reinterpret with a working knowledge all things country, rock, old time gospel and folk has singularly help to build a new arm of music radio and business with a firm avenue for those outside the box.

Artists such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons in some way owe some credit to Buddy Miller in helping to define a way to market this new indie branch of the music tree.

Marion James

Marion James may be the most constant and longest lasting member of the Music City Patron Saints. Marion has been a longtime performer and resident living nearby what used to be the hot bed of Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues on Jefferson Street. Marion’s biggest hit was The Top 10 Billboard Hit, “That’s My Man.”

Marion James at 30th Annual Musicians Reunion and Benefit, photo- Brad Hardisty

Marion James, known as Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” was playing on Jefferson Street back in the day with a young Jimi Hendrix who had just gotten out of the military. As a former member of Fort Campbell’s Screaming Eagles, Jimi Hendrix and his new best friend Billy Cox had their own band The King Kasuals but also played with Marion James and others.

The musicians on Jefferson Street, Johnny Jones, Christine  Kittrell, Little Richard, Ray Charles and many others were featured on one of the biggest Rhythm and Blues stations of the day, Nashville’s own WLAC.

Marion was featured prominently in The Country Music Hall of Fame’s exhibit Night Train To Nashville.  A photo of one of her live performances with Billy Cox on bass is featured on Volume Two of the Night Train To Nashville Collection.

Several years ago, Marion James started the Musician’s Reunion shows that featured the stars from back in the day on Nashville’s Northside to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society, that she started to help aging musicians with medical costs as well as support the American Cancer Society and the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Marion James continues to perform today. Marion James recorded in the 80’s a blues landmark album with The Hypnotics that lead to sold out shows in Europe and also released a solo album called Essence that featured Nashville guitarist Jack Pearson as well as session bassist Bob Babbitt.

Recently, Marion released Northside Soul on Ellersoul Records which reached #10 on the Living Blues Charts.

Marion James, not only is an accomplished vocalist, but, writes many of her owns songs. Marion James is The Queen of The South when it comes to the Blues.

Marion continues to support the North Nashville community through her organization as well as efforts to get out the history of Jefferson Street to the rest of the world.

Jack White is probably the newest patron saint as one of the four cornerstones of the Nashville Music Community.  I’m not sure what the tipping point was when Jack decided to move to Nashville, but, I imagine meeting Loretta Lynn and asking if he could produce her must have been a big nod in that direction.

The White Stripes started performing “ Jolene” long before Jack moved to Nashville, but, Van Lear Rose, the album that brought a Grammy nod as well as new ears to listen to Loretta Lynn was a huge milestone.

Wanda Jackson and Jack White (Associated Press Photo)

Since working with Loretta Lynn, Jack has gone onto record with Ricky Skaggs, Produce “The Queen of Rockabilly”, Wanda Jackson, invite Porter Wagoner to open for The White Stripes at Madison Square Garden shortly before his passing and worked with many of Nashville’s Rock and Roll Community while spotlighting its heritage.

Jack represents what Rock and Roll is all about with a balance between the blues, rock and roll and country. Jack and his record company, Third Man Records solidify Music City’s Rock and Roll Community which has seen tremendous growth in the last three to four years.

Nashville, whose first real travelling stars, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, has seen a lot of changes over the years. Lower Broad almost turned into a dangerous ghost town when Opryland took over the Grand Ole Opry and most of what downtown had left musically in the late 70’s.

It took many starts and stops before seeing a permanent positive growth record with the opening of today’s Country Music Hall of Fame and numerous new projects downtown.

Nashville is about to see a new golden age for the “Athens of the South.” Nashville has probably one of the biggest collections of colleges and universities in America. Now, just about every genre of American music has a piece of the pie and venues grow by leaps and bounds.

Peter Frampton may have moved here to early, it definitely spurred him on to return to the guitar in a big way, but, sadly he decided to move before Nashville really started to realize its potential as one of the coolest cities in America.

If you are a musician, especially a guitarist or a songwriter, there is no better place to be in the world today no matter what style you play.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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Kenny Vaughan at Mercy 2011

This would be the year that Indie makes more news in Nashville than Country; what Music City is known for. There seems to be much more going on with the ever developing spider web of Funk, Rock and strange magic underbelly from the Gulch to East Nashville.

Before, we get into this weird year, 2012 with its three Friday the 13ths exactly 13 weeks apart, the intrigue of political discord, 12/21/12, which lines up with Rush’s “Temples of Syrinx” released in 1976, prophecy being realized, “Our great computers, fill the hallowed halls, We are the priests of the temples of syrinx, All the gifts of life, Are held within our walls,” ha! Computers, what a blessing and a curse as all the creative occupations occupied by humans are eliminated by this gift we call knowledge at our fingertips. Remember, when Rush wrote “Temples of Syrinx,” a computer took up a whole room. Well, Steve Jobs, one of the great Priests of the digital age has passed onto the spiritual realm.

The Mayan calendar ends shortly after the election, maybe the world won’t come to an end, but, probably a lot of music will be written about end times and there will be an uptick of heavy dirge and Metal music. This may be the year to contemplate life listening to Dark Side of The Moon again or about sinister underlying forces in Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime.

Before we move through this “L” shaped recovery, one of the most mentally difficult times I can remember in my life, let’s rewind.

 As far as music, 2011 was a “run for cover” year as the “360 deal” pop artists keep spinning their “larger-than-life-80’s-on-ecstacy” fluff with the bands that happen to still be signed to major labels sounding not too far off the Katy Perryesque mark. I think the bands were put on warning, “Rock radio is dying so you better have “Moves Like Jagger.”

Okay, before I get to something positive, there were some disappointments. Janes Addiction, while preparing to release their newest album, The Great Escape Artist, put down their last effort, Strays  as not being that good, when in fact Strays did have a couple of great guitar hooks, while this dark piece, weak on guitar, ended up being more reminiscent of Porno for Pyros.  There was not one solid hook on the entire album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to put together a solid if not remarkable effort with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who may be capable of taking on some Frusciante and Slovak, but not as innovative. Frusciante was a trailblazer; this is like replacing Eddie Van Halen.

So, with FYE the last major chain in Nashville closing its doors at the old Tower Records site, you got your choice, you have major league fluff, really not much different than the cotton candy days before The Beatles and The Rolling Stones crashed the party or you can go outside the box, think for yourself, show up at a Grimey’s in-store or a showcase at The End.

Hello Kelly at The Rutledge, photo courtesy- Jeni George

As far as bands go, Jeff The Brotherhood, joins the two member band fray that goes nationwide, well deserved with great shows locally and at Bonnaroo and beyond. As far as other local rock acts, Hello Kelly always put on a solid show when I saw them this year as well as The Onethroughtens that played solid sets at both the Third Man Vault show and some fashion meets art consortium at Mercy Lounge.

Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb Record Shop

As far as favorite shows, Kenny Vaughan’s record release at Ernest Tubb’s downtown location was the place to be this year with Marty Stuart, the Fabulous Superlatives as well as Chris Scruggs playing to a packed room with about half being friends and relatives.

Jeff Beck at Ryman 2011

Jeff Beck at The Ryman was another phenomenal show as well as the Americana Awards that saw not only The Avett Brothers and The Civil Wars, but, also Robert Plant and Greg Allman bookending appearances with Buddy Miller providing the musical proceedings.

Okay, now for my top ten of the year. Many recordings are sounding more analog in the Indie world, if not recorded analog, the attempt to match the style with the sound that would come out of the influential era a must.

10.  Jeff The Brotherhood  – We Are The Champions

Starting out with some punk rock Buck Rogers guitar laser blasts subsiding into gnarly Maestro phase shifter on “Hey Friend” clocking in with a long intro, the writing is strong, simple and effective. Jeff gets a major label deal off this one. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Their own label, Infinity Cat, being one of the major local indie labels to develop a short roster that has been hitting every club and festival that they can, Jeff the Brotherhood came up with a solid piece of work.

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

Jacky Dustin has one strong Country voice, this Chicago band has been down here chasing their Country music dreams for a little while, not waiting to get signed, they put this great piece of Country rockin’ song cycle out themselves.  Big labels, in their search for solos and doubles, have so far overlooked this great band. What’s wrong with a great band that writes their own songs about cranking The Rolling Stones and talking about where they came from? This is not a one trick pony going from the double-time “We Write Our Songs” to the getting more than you bargained for sultry “Love Me Like A Stranger,” this is probably the best “unsigned” country band in Nashville.

8. Graveyard – Hisingen Blues

This was a find while traveling out to Utah to do interviews, stopping it at local indie record shop, Gray Whale and picking up a recommendation. The Swedish rockers are somewhere between first album Black Sabbath and Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer. The recording sounds like it was done on an old well worn 4 track reel to reel with non-Marshalls, more like full blown, old Sound City amps or something. There doesn’t seem to be anything above 8k on this album. It plays like a record found at a garage sale from an old Vietnam era stoner. They are playing this month at Exit/In on January 20th.  The early Black Sabbath slow un-blues of “No Good, Mr. Holden” and stoner boogie, “Buying Truth (Tack & Forlat)” are stand outs.

7. Mastodon – The Hunter

It’s weird to think that a Metal band that was conceived at The Nick in Birmingham and worked its way out of Atlanta, would earn its wings being lauded not only by Metallica but attendees at such indie festivals as Coachella with 2008’s, Crack The Skye, busting out everywhere. It was hard to follow up Crack the Skye which would be their Dark Side of The Moon, but Mastodon do a great job on such cuts as the “Sweet Leaf” groove of “Curl of The Burl” and the Dream Theater flavored, “Octopus Has No Friends.”  

Dedicated6. Steve Cropper – Dedicated, A Salute to The 5 Royales

Steve has the opportunity to pay tribute to guitarist, Lowman Pauling, who was one of the biggest influences on Stax soul as the great era of the Sixties would kick in full effect. The King records office, run by “Duck” Dunn’s brother in Memphis, brought in some of the strongest soul artists of the day from around the country. Booker T. and The MG’s, Otis Redding and many other artists were influenced as the music changed from rhythm and blues to soul. This has an all—star vocal cast from Delbert McClinton on “Right Around the Corner” to Steve Winwood, B.B. (Beale Street Blues Boy) King, Steve Winwood, Lucinda Williams and an A-list that contribute to this project.

5. Gary Clark Jr.  – The Bright Lights E.P.

With some gritty Black Keys meets The Burnside Exploration bluesy soul of “Bright Lights,” kicking off this four song cycle, there is a little Paul “Wine” Jones thrown in here, this Texan, all things, including a little hill country blues, is more of a promise than a full album. It was good enough to make Rolling Stone’s list for the year and earns a place on my list as well. The fact that it is on Warner Brothers makes it really twisted.

4. Tony Bennett – Duets II

With many of the classic icons now “Dust in The Wind,” it really is amazing that Tony Bennett still sings like a prizefighter. Mr. Bennett could hold up everything by himself, but, the interesting match-ups with Mariah Carey, John Mayer (yes, John Mayer), Willie Nelson, as well as Lady Gaga’s best performance to date on “The Lady is a Tramp” makes for an instant standard. The most prized track is Amy Winehouse’ last recorded performance of “Body and Soul.” The Nelson Riddle style strings make this record sit on the top shelf with the best early Sixties era Frank.

3. Kenny Vaughan – V

Kenny shows up on a lot of Nashville records, known as Marty Stuart’s guitar slinger, Kenny takes center stage with The Fabulous Superlatives providing back up, the album rocks as much as it steeps in mystified netherworld Country, blasting off with “Country Music Got a Hold on Me,” stopping mid-point with the instrumental, “Wagon Ride” before ending up in a rockin’ Country church, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus.”  Sonically, this has the frequencies in the right place with no high-end ADD busy bee stuff going on. Well done!

2. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

If I could be in a band right now, this would be it, with only a strong sense of songwriting being the guide this is all over the map with heavy 70’s influenced, “Might Find It Cheap” being probably the best structured song I have heard this year, to influences from accoustified Dylan to southern fried Tom Petty, I think there is a concept going on here, but, more than anything this is worth at least a dozen listens.

1. Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

We may never know how far Amy could have gone. She absorbed Dinah Washington, Donny Hathaway as well as The Ronnettes with equal grace. Amy not only did some great covers, but, was a songwriter on par with the best. This disc has some raw original versions showing Amy supporting herself on guitar. Amy had all three talents, great voice, great musician and great songwriter. She was a triple threat in a class of one. Amy is the best voice of the last twenty years. This collection takes us all the way from the very beginning on the demo, “The Girl From Ipanema” to mid career, Stevie Wonder influenced, Amy Winehouse penned, “Half Time” to the current torn heart on a sleeve, Leon Russell cover, “A Song For You.” This is a chronicle of a flame that burned hot and way too fast. She should be here now.

Okay, that’s it.  Watch out for Imelda May. She actually played at 3rd and Lindsley this year. Imelda would have been on the list with Mayhem except it is a 2010 release, but, watch out, there is More Mayhem coming out at a Grimey’s near you.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis’ stripped down take on the Forties as well as some Ska and Hawaiian music on Smoking in Heaven continues where the last one left. They’re heading for the Big Day Out Festivals in Australia and while not making much of a dent in the States, the recording is a vintage gear monger’s dream. They accurately feel like recordings made in Chicago or Memphis way before Sun.  

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Kenny and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives started ripping it up a little after 8PM at the back of Ernest Tubb Record Shop like it was a Midnight Jamboree with The Buckaroos back in 62 on September 13th.

You could have been up the street at Bridgestone, listening to Journey and Foreigner playing a best of set, but, if you weren’t at Ernest Tubb, you missed what is happening now. Manuel Nudie, in a black on black striped tailored suit, didn’t miss it.

Introduction:" Kenny, it's time you put out your own record"

Celebrating the release of his first solo effort, V, on Sugarhill Records, it was Kenny front and center after an introduction by his beautiful wife, saying “it was about time.” Kenny has been ripping it up for years with everybody in Nashville from Martina McBride & The Ride to Marty Stuart, Mindy Smith and Mike Farris.

Kenny, Marty & His Fabulous Superlatives

Marty was comfortable being the supportive guitarist, boss, co-conspirator, this seals the deal.  With a frontline of nothing but Fender Telecasters, Paul Martin and his Fender Precision Bass, Fender Amps and Harry Stinson on the skins, this was a new chapter in the foundation that Buck Owens, Don Rich and The Buckaroos laid down, this is Honky Tonk at its best.

Tearin' it up!

Kenny ripped through “Lillie Mae”, “Country Music Got a Hold on Me” and other already gone classics. The delivery with a Chuck Berry story style and vocal range was as much Rock and Roll as it was timeless twin guitar attack that could have been Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West or Thin Lizzy.  

Speaking of Speedy West; Chris Scruggs made a guest appearance on Steel Guitar, already considered a Master by those around Nashville; it was pure vintage riffing almost hearkening back to that era. Chris mentioned after, that he will have a new Nashville recorded album out in the spring.

Marty!

Before finishing the set, they took off on “Country Boy Rock and Roll” from Ghost Train which left David Letterman and Paul Shaffer’s jaws dropped to the floor when Marty and Kenny  guitar shredded through their David Letterman Show promotional appearance just a few moons ago.

Kenny announced the last song, co-written with Marty, a Country Honky Tonk Rockin’ Gospel number, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus”. I don’t know what Church they play that at, but, I want to be there.

This is the perfect bookend to Ghost Train, this is what Lower Broad should sound like, from the Red Dirt scene of Oklahoma and Texas to the oil fields of Coalinga outside Bakersfield to Hank Garland and all that have gone before, this is the Country that puts a smile on your face.

Chris Scruggs Y'all!

While Kenny was going to continue the party at Full Moon down the street at 10PM, Marty escaped in his sleek Black Cadillac XLR Batmobile. This was the Nashville party tonight.

One of my Faves, Kenny at Mike Farris in-store

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com