You know you’re in for a particularly spirited evening at the Country Music Hall of Fame when Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives tackle the Surfaris’ classic “Wipeout” and drummer Harry Stinson plays a solo on his face.
That was just one example of a night full of surprising and highly entertaining performances on the second night of Stuart’s three-week run as artist-in-residence at the Hall of Fame in Nashville.
There’s nothing conventional about Marty Stuart and this series reaffirms that. On this particular night, he declared it to be a “Psychedelic Jam-Bo-Ree”, essentially crafting a lava lamp of country music: free flowing, mesmerizing and colorful throughout.
How did one qualify to appear on this stage? Stuart explained that every guest had to meet three criteria. They would have to come from the ‘60s, wear rhinestones and have a personal relationship with Jesus. That led to some pretty exclusive company, including the Old Crow Medicine Show, Connie Smith, Buck Trent, Jim Lauderdale and two members of the Byrds.
Stuart, who is on every PBS station in America this week as a particularly thoughtful commentator on Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary, skillfully curated his own show, bringing the audience back to the look, sounds and vibe of the ‘60s.
Highlight included Stuart’s performance of “Six White Horses, a top five country hit for Tommy Cash in 1969. Written by Larry Murray, the song mourns the passing of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.
Early on, Stuart recalled how much he treasured watching Porter Wagner’s TV show in the ‘60s with his father. He then introduced former Wagon Master Trent, who performed with great joy, and showcasing both jokes and suit coat lining from the ‘60s.
And what would the 60s have been without drugs? (Probably the ‘50s) Charlie Worsham’s performance with Old Crow Medicine Show of his “I Hope I’m Stoned When Jesus Calls Me Home” was particularly apt.
The evening came to a stirring close with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman joining the Superlatives for a mini-set of Byrds classics, including Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man, Pete Seeger’s “Turn Turn Turn,” Gene Clark’s “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” and Chris Hillman’s “Have You Seen Her Face,” which he told the audience was inspired by a blind date that David Crosby had set up for him.
It’s the third time we’ve seen the Byrds-Superlatives connection in the past year, including Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam and the Ryman performance on the “Sweethearts of the Radio” tour, but no complaints. In truth, the Superlatives are a better band than the Byrds ever were and every performance was transcendent.
Marty Stuart’s third and final performance of his residency, comes next Wednesday, September 25th, with special guests John Prine, Brandy Clark, Dallas Frazier, and Doug Kershaw. Tickets are still available from the Country Music Hall of Fame.