If you were to give country music an address, you might say it’s at the corner of sacred and profane, two doors up from the blues and folk, and just across the street from gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. And on a deeper emotional and spiritual level, it resides where Saturday night meets Sunday morning. No one understands these coordinates better than Marty Stuart. For over forty years, the five-time Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, photographer and historian has been building a rich legacy at this very crossroads. On his latest release with his band The Fabulous Superlatives, the double-disc Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, Stuart captures all the authentic neon and stained-glass hues of country music – from love and sex to heartache and hardship to family and God – in twenty-three tracks.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning offers a rousing blend of Stuart originals, classic covers and traditional hymns and that throw their arms around the whole history of not only country but modern American music. Kicking off with the revved-up rockabilly rush of “Jailhouse” and “Geraldine,” disc one winds through Stuart’s grand “When It Comes To Loving You” and the honky tonker “Talking To The Wall” through deeply soulful covers of Charlie Rich’s “Life Has Its Little Ups And Downs” and George Jones’ “Old Old House” before wrapping up with the positively frantic blues rocket ride of “Streamline.”
Disc two trades sawdust for sermons, and goes right to the river with the gorgeous “Uncloudy Day,” featuring not only the legendary Mavis Staples on lead vocals, but Marty playing a guitar that the Staples family bequeathed him that once belonged to Pops Staples. The Fabulous Superlatives shine with their celebratory group harmony singing on standouts like “That Gospel Music,” “Angels Rock Me To Sleep” and “Mercy #1,” while uptempo rockers like “Keep On the Firing Line” and “Good News” build the service to a big hands-to-heaven call and response finish with “Cathedral,” featuring the mighty soul shouts of Pastor Evelyn Hubbard.
Born in the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Marty Stuart caught the music bug early, displaying prodigious talent on every stringed instrument he picked up. At an age when most kids are running bases in little league, 13-year old Stuart was logging cross-country interstate miles as a mandolinist with the legendary Lester Flatt’s road band. In his twenties, Stuart toured with Johnny Cash, and also played with other legends such as Bill Monroe, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. By the late 1980s, Stuart was a solo artist, rising faster than mercury in the heat of a hillbilly fever. But amidst the hits and hoopla, the bright lights eventually revealed a deeper truth.
To get some clarity, Stuart consulted his friend and mentor, Johnny Cash. “I went to his house and said, ‘J.R., I’ve got a record in my mind called The Pilgrim. I laid it out to him, and he said, ‘Well, just know you’re stepping up for rejection. Potentially.’ I said, ‘I understand, but I’ve got to do this.’ He said, ‘If you’ve got to do it, that’s all the reason you need.’ So I made the record. It was a great critical success, and it was a line-in-the-dirt artistic moment of reconnecting with my true self, a piece of myself that I had hidden away years before, to go exploring. From that moment forward, I realized that there’s a different way to live a life as a musical citizen.”
Stuart knew he didn’t want to travel this new path alone, so he recruited fellow musical missionaries Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Paul Martin. “From the Superlatives’ first rehearsal, I knew this was the band of a lifetime,” Stuart says.
With acclaimed albums like Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions and Souls’ Chapel, as well as The Marty Stuart Show, a musical variety program on RFD-TV, Stuart says “I’ve found my place to drive a stake in the dirt, and proclaim, this is what I believe in.”
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