Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives @ Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, Bethel, NY

Live Reviews | Oct 27th, 2021

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives
Photo by ALYSSE GAFKJEN

Date: October 17th,2021

Anyone with even the smallest interest in traditional Country music should know who the versatile Marty Stuart is. This extremely talented musician been around the country music world for decades, and has played with everyone from Hank 3 to Johnny Cash to Emmylou Harris, from Guy Clark to Marty’s wife, the wonderful Connie Smith as well as many, many more.

The last time I saw Marty Stuart in concert was in September 2018 at The Egg in Albany, NY. That show featured Marty and his Fabulous Superlatives act as essentially a backing band to Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn on the latter’s “Sweetheart of The Rodeo” 50th Anniversary Tour- The Classic and Legendary Byrds album released in 1968. At that time, it was evident how talented this “backing band” were, but on this night, at Bethel Woods Event gallery they had the stage to themselves for a full 90 minutes to show off and show off they did.

The show kicked off with an instrumental number and followed up with the group- bassist (and Buddy Holly doppelgänger) Chris Scruggs, lead guitarist Cousin Kenny Vaughan, and drummer Handsome Harry Stinson join Marty Stuart around one Microphone just like they were at the Opry, in perfect harmony and pitch. Handsome Harry had perfect timing with his bandmates and did it with only a snare drum and a couple of brushes, nice!

It’s worth noting that although Marty Stuart takes top billing here, they are most certainly a band, and an equal opportunities band. They take turns sharing the spotlight, one of the highlights being Handsome Harry’s mouth/cheek percussion solo during a superb cover of “Wipeout.” Cousin Kenny looked very intense earlier in the show but seemed to loosen up as the show went on. What was it? Stage anxiety? Doubtful. Just focused on not missing a lick? Quite possible! Regardless, when you play as good as he does you can look whatever way you want which brought us to one of Kenny’s own songs “Country music got a hold on me.” The audience loved it. And loved Kenny too.

Marty took out the mandolin several times throughout the show, each time being better than the last, he really showed his chops and why he is the main man up there. He told a great story about Willie Nelson and dedicated their performance of Nelsons “Me and Paul” to the sadly recently deceased and longtime Nelson drummer Paul English. Chris Scruggs managed to get the audience whipped up into a singalong that featured Kim Kardashian in the lyrics (in a humorous context-not a tribute!).

Before they played their last song of the evening Marty and the band took in the event gallery room and declared that they can’t wait to come back- of course a cynic would easily dismiss this as a generic statement that a touring musician might say in any given town, if this was that, it didn’t feel like it. It felt as genuine as Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives are and were. They closed out the night with the very appropriate “Ready for the times to get better,” and just like that they were gone, until next time. For now however, the Merch table will do!

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