LIVE: Marty Stuart Expanded The Definition of Country at The Egg, 01/30/2022 

“I guess we don’t need the canary tonight.” 

I could see the smile on George’s face through his mask. It was in his eyes.  

I tell people that my brother by another mother George Scism is my canary in the coal mine. Like so many of us, a good concert is his reward for simply surviving, and if the canary dies – if the concert isn’t good – he’s my barometer. Never mind what kind of music it is. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

And if the concert is great, it gets us through a world that’s unforgiving right now. And just getting there is worth the journey. And just getting there can be a monumental struggle.  

Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives were stuck in their vehicle Saturday night in Newton, New Jersey, a city 60 miles northwest of New York City. They finally got on the road at 5:30 Sunday morning, after seeing hours staring out into a blizzard that cut up the east coast like a huge white scar.  Their job? Get to Albany for the next show on the tour. 

Boston got just under two feet, New Jersey got a little less, but who’s counting? Suffice it to say, making it from point A to point B, The Egg in Albany, from 5:30 a.m. to a 7:30 p.m. showtime was one more road trip story Marty Stuart can add to his legacy that started when he was 13 with Lester Flatt and includes tours with Johnny Cash, Doc and Merle Watson, Travis Tritt, and on his own as a headliner. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Marty calls his band The Fabulous Superlatives, a name that in reality is not hyperbole. Guitarist Kenny Vaughan, bass player Chris Scruggs and Harry Stinson on drums are more than simply a support group. Marty gave each of them lead vocals on two numbers of their own that added to the extreme eclecticism of a two-hour set that included everything from a Bob Wills country classic to the song that bought Marty a house, “Whiskey Ain’t Working.” He co-wrote The 1991 number 2 country hit, sang it with Travis Tritt, and took it on the road as “The No Hats Tour.” 

Marty opened Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues” and updated Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd.” 

He went from a mandolin solo on THE classic train song “Orange Blossom Special,” best known for the Johnny Cash version, to a kick-ass rendition of the 1966 Count Five rave-up “Psychotic Reaction.”  

From a Ventures-like instrumental with a dash of twang to the “Albany debut” of “Sitting Alone” that features a melody line straight out of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

From a Johnny Cash-like song about a trucker who travels a road from Maine to Boston with “a tombstone every mile” to the 1963 surf rock instrumental by The Surfaris, “Wipe Out.” 

Marty Stuart has built a half-century career legitimizing country music with the same kind of credibility that B.B. King did for blues. He served six terms as president of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s board of directors. He’s written about music and culture for the Oxford American. He owned the aural history portions of the Ken Burns Country documentary and for my money is the contemporary equivalent of Waylon Jennings who inspired the term outlaw country. He represents the best in today’s country music, and the world is just waiting for a new country moniker to tag his work.  

A fabulous superlative for sure. 

  1. Eileen says

    Rivaled times we’ve seen Marty and his band in Nashville! Love him and The Egg.

  2. P says

    Quite simply, this was an absolutely stunning performance by a music legend and his aptly named Fabulous Superlatives. The music is phenomenal, the stories and musical education is unparalleled. If you have a chance to see him, do not pass it up. I don’t count myself as a die-hard country fan, Marty is changing that. I wouldn’t even call this a country show, you had a mix of country, bluegrass, surf, rockabilly, etc.. As amazing as watching a virtuoso like Marty is, the space he gives each of the band members to show off is impressive, no ego for Marty. A rare occurrence when the “leader” turns it over to someone in the band, and you aren’t let down at all. There were a number of highlights for me including “The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd”, “Time Won’t wait”, “Hillbilly Rock”, and “This Whiskey Aint’ Working” .
    Can’t wait to see them again!

    BTW. GREAT Pics! … How did you catch Kenny smiling ?

  3. Margo Singer says

    Fabulous review and photos.
    Country music was never really “my thing” and I confess I only learned who Marry was while watching the Ken Burns doc and immediately proceeded to get tickets to see him! This was my third concert of his at The Egg, and they just get better and better. So lucky the snowstorm did not jeopardize our wonderful concert.

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