Late Night Jam, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN on June 10, 2009
For the eighth year in a row, Marty Stuart's Late Night Jam got the CMA Music Festival started with a bang! Now "officially" considered by the CMA to be the kick off of the music fest, Marty's fans have always known it's the best show in town. WSM's Eddie Stubbs once again served as our announcer and, as usual, did a wonderful job. He got things started by welcoming us to the Ryman and introducing the first act. The lights went down and haunting music begin drifting throughout the auditorium. Two beautifully costumed Lakota Indian dancers came onstage and right away we knew we were in for a treat. Brulé and the American Indian Rock Opera thoroughly entertained the audience with native music and dance and we responded with a standing ovation when they were done.
Eddie again welcomed us to the show and talked a little about Marty's love of the Lakota people. He announced some of the acts that would perform and then introduced Marty, the man that brought it all together. Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives (the "best dressed band in country music" according to Eddie) had the crowd clapping along to "Hillbilly Rock" in no time. Dressed in his now trademark black, Marty was dancing around and enjoying the high energy crowd as much as we were. After thanking us for coming, Marty introduced the Greencards, a group he met when he was performing in California last month. The group, featuring Carol Young and Kym Warner from Australia and Eamon McLoughlin from the UK (with additional help tonight from a guitar player from Atlanta, Ga.) records for Sugar Hill Records and sings sort of Americana/Folk flavored songs. They did a lovely version of "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" and one other song, which I didn't catch the name of. Marty played mandolin along with the group. Carol was very grateful to Marty for asking them to be a part of the Jam and said it was a dream come true to play on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium.
Marty brought the CEO of RFD-TV out for a wave (Patrick somebody, didn't get the last name. Sorry!) and thanked him for having a station like RFD-TV and for having The Marty Stuart Show on the network. He then introduced a new up and coming singer Justin Moore, who performed his first top 20 single "Small Town USA." The song was a perfect fit for what Marty was saying about RFD-TV. After Justin left the stage, Marty introduced Debbie Carroll of MusiCares, Tony Conway from the CMA Music Fest and a representative from Keep the Music Playing, which supports programs to keep music in the public school system. They all thanked the audience for buying the tickets and supporting Marty year after year in his efforts to raise money for each charity. Marty told us later that we'd raised over $33,000 in ticket sales for the night.
Marty gathered Harry and Paul around for a quick sampling of the song "Slow Train" before introducing the Martin Brothers, who he promised could "do it better than we do." Paul's two young sons, March and Kell, had the audience eating out of their hands after the first line of the song!! March played along on guitar and each boy sang a verse of the song. Paul was grinning proudly as they took a bow, thrilled at the standing ovation they received. Marty asked the boys, "What's your grandpa's name?" They responded, "Duane Allen." Marty said, "That's right, Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys." Marty asked, "What's your grandma's name?" They said, "Nora Lee Allen." Marty said, "Nora Lee of the famous Carol Lee singers at the Opry." Marty asked, "What's your daddy's name?" They responded, "Paul Martin." Marty pointed to bass player Paul and said, "That's him." Finally he asked, "What's your mama's name?" and they said, "Jamie Martin." Marty said, "Jamie Allen Martin, daughter of Duane and Nora Lee Allen." The boys have a pretty impressive pedigree! Marty asked March if he would play guitar with the band and told him to pick out any song he wanted to play. March played a fantastic version of "La Tingo Tango" with Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives playing along. Afterward, they got another well deserved standing ovation.
Next up was Canadian artist Corb Lund, who is produced by none other than Handsome Harry Stinson. Marty joined him on a really pretty song called "Especially a Paint" then Corb and his band, The Hurtin' Albertans had us clapping along to "Time to Switch to Whiskey (we've been drinking beer all night)." Jeff Hanna from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band stopped by for a visit and Marty brought him out to sing "Mr. Bojangles" with him and the guys. We all enjoyed singing along on the chorus.
During a 15-minute intermission, I looked around the auditorium and was very pleased to see the Ryman was almost filled to capacity. Even though it wasn't a sell out as it has been in past years, the crowd was enthusiastic and very appreciative of the artists performing. I saw many familiar faces of fans who have come to the Late Night Jam year after year. Marty and his guests never disappoint us!!
After intermission, Eddie welcomed us and the radio audience back to the show and acknowledged the sponsors of the Jam; Crest Cadillac, RFD-TV and WSM. The CEO of Crest presented Marty with a check for $10,000 to add to the proceeds of the night. Chris Cooley, General Manager of WSM came out with his guitar and sang a song called "Better for Me, No Way" with Marty playing along. Bluegrass group Cherryholmes took the stage next and had the audience clapping along once again to a stunning a cappella rendition of "Mary Don't You Weep." Dad Cherryholmes introduced everyone and they did a Grammy-nominated instrumental which featured each member of the band. They were fantastic!
Marty introduced Connie Smith (his "favorite singer and the prettiest girl in the world") and her band The Sundowners, who performed "I've Got My Baby on My Mind" and "You've Got Me Right Where You Want Me," which she said Marty had requested. Dressed all in black, Connie looked gorgeous as always and she and Marty matched perfectly. He played along with the band and sang backup on the first two songs, then joined his wife for a duet of the Buck Owens classic "Your Tender Loving Care." As Connie left the stage, Eddie told Marty that a friend had dropped by "just to hear the Roll's Royce sing tonight" and Marty brought Dierks Bentley out to say hello. Dierks didn't sing, but he did help Marty introduce Riders in the Sky. Too Slim, Woody, Ranger Doug and the gang were their usual entertaining selves and had the audience laughing with their antics and slapstick comedy. They started with "Wa Hoo" then did a children's medley featuring "Woody's Roundup," "Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl" from the movie Toy Story and "You've Got a Friend in Me." Too Slim even did some rap for us (or "Crap" -- a combination of cowboy music and rap) Before they left the stage, Marty called them back and requested "Cool Water." Marty also joined the guys for an instrumental while Too Slim danced a bit.
Before the next guest came out, Eddie asked us to listen and see if we remembered a song from several years ago. From off stage came a powerful voice and the words "Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on..." The audience erupted into applause as Tanya Tucker appeared and continued singing. Tanya was also dressed in black and she has every bit of the spirit and spunk she's always had. Tanya talked about how excited she was to be singing at the Ryman again and thanked Marty for asking her to be a part of the show. She talked about how she idolized Connie when she was growing up and remembered the first time she came to the Opry as a child and realized that she would rather be performing than watching the show. After singing "Is Anybody Going to San Antone," she had Marty join her for "Love's Gonna Live Here Again." Marty said it was the first time Tanya had performed in two years and I think she was glad to be back in front of an audience.
The Oak Ridge Boys were up next and they started out with a new song called "The Boys are Back." We noticed someone was missing from the lineup and once the song was over, Duane Allen explained that tenor Joe Bonsall was on doctor-ordered vocal rest for three weeks. Jimmy Fulbright, who plays in the Oaks band, had big shoes to fill as stand-in, but he did a good job. Joe came out on stage to wave to the crowd and clown around a bit, just wanting to get in on the fun. Next was an audience favorite, "Y'all Come Back Saloon" followed by "Beautiful Bluebird," "Shake It, Baby," "Mama's Table," and "Seven Nation Army," all from their new album. Marty and the guys joined the Oaks for "Have a Little Talk With Jesus" and then our host requested "Elvira" which naturally brought the house down. Joe couldn't resist getting in on the action for just a word or two as the audience all sang along.
Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives came center stage once again to sing "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." And after band introductions, Marty asked if we wanted to hear some "cut rate Marty Robbins." After a round of encouraging applause, he surprised us by doing a pretty good impersonation of Marty Robbins singing the classic "Don't We All Have the Right to be Wrong Now and Then." The audience loved it! Next was a beautiful new song Marty just wrote that addresses the unfortunate state of the country right now, "What Will Become of the Working Man?" He talked about a good friend he's recently lost, John L. Smith, the man who introduced Johnny Cash to the Lakota Indians many years ago and sang a song he wrote for him "It's Hard to Say Goodbye." He asked Brule to come back out onstage to stand with him as he sang in honor of his friend. Brulé and the American Indian Rock Opera then accompanied Marty as he sang "Wounded Knee."
Connie, Cherryholmes and the Martin Brothers came back out onstage as Marty led everyone in singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Are You on the Rock & Roll." He thanked everyone for coming and said goodnight. It was a little after 2 a.m, but the still-close-to-capacity crowd would have loved more. I couldn't believe four hours had passed by so fast!!
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the meet and greet as I had a long trip back to Georgia ahead of me, but I left the Ryman with wonderful memories of another fabulously superlative Late Night Jam. I can't wait for next year!!!
By Judy Simonton, Lawrenceville, GA
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