Marty Stuart must surely have thought his headlining days at a big UK were probably in the past, however with a covid outbreak in the Chris Young camp he and his band of Fabulous Superlatives found themselves promoted into the prestige spot of closing the Rhinestone Stage on Saturday night. With the Long Road Festival having a very broad musical remit, there were few grumblings that we heard from the assembled crowd about this and anyone who had seen his performance at C2C some years ago, would be well aware of the fact that Marty is easily capable of putting on a show for anyone!!
Defying any type of convention he started with “Graveyard” an instrumental, providing a chance to get to meet everybody, from “Cousin Kenny” Vaughan standing impossibly tall and a maestro on an array of guitars, while on bass both electric and stand up was “Professor” Chris Scruggs looking like he may be an accountant but able to provide a solid bass backing and vocals as required while at the back on drums sat “Handsome” Harry Stinson who barely seemed to raise a sweat while providing the sweetest of backbeats, with Mart himself, his white hair taking on the colour of whichever lights were on him was our impeccable genial host always able to inform and entertain as well as providing excellent guitar, and mandolin playing, along with his impressive vocals. There were certainly younger bands at the Long Road but were there any bands quite as versatile and don’t be fooled by age these guys can certainly still rock when required.
It was a case of from instrumental to old time rockabilly country for “Tear The Woodpile Down”, with all three “Superlatives” providing backing vocals to Marty along with some rip roaring guitar. The musical styles kept coming apace, the new song “Sitting Alone” had positively Beatlesque elements to it while had Buddy Holly lived to a ripe old age he would surely have been proud to have penned something like “Tempted” which Marty delivered with some aplomb. After a quite furiously paced start things would inevitably have to slow down with a little bit of classic country in the shape of “This One’s Gonna Hurt You ( For A Long Long Time)”.
Few would have guessed that Marty would lead a Surfing revival with “Mojave” and “La Tingo Tango” with even Chris Scruggs sheepishly mentioning about the surfing to be had around the Leicester area! It is sometimes easy to forget quite how much back catalogue Marty has, the Cash like “Matches” sits on a 65 track Definitive Collection Vol 2!. After nearly slipping in a little bit of “Fulsom Prison Blues”, Marty managed to then unite the assembled crowd with his next song a cover of “Ring Of Fire” that produced possibly the loudest singalong of the whole weekend!
Each of the “Superlatives” is afforded their own little slot to show off their talents and Kenny was up first with “Country Music Got A Hold On Me” and “Hot Like That”, his goodtime vocals matching his guitar playing. The evening was to be peppered with special guests the first Andrew Combs delved far back into his catalogue for the excellent “Too Stoned To Cry”, he seemed genuinely moved to be sharing the stage with Marty. The second guest was the UK’s very own Kezia Gill, with a sold out tour of her own due to come later in the year – this was a chance to announce herself on a big stage and her version of “These Boots Were Made For Walking” fitted in well with the eclectic nature of Marty’s set. The final guest would be Sunny Sweeney who would become well known to everyone by the end of the weekend, however her introduction to the Long Road Festival was with a version of “Good Hearted Woman”.
Marty is more than just a musician, more of a musicologist and his retelling of how he met the writer of “Orange Blossom Special” is simply beautiful, as was his solo version of it, a bravura performance.
The main set would close with “Time Don’t Wait” its infectious chorus echoed back to Marty on request giving hm a chance to hear how well he was being received. The encores were the enjoyable romp that is “Hillbilly Rock” and “Country Star” before Saturday night was closed with the sweetest of ballads “When The Angles Came Down For Me”, Marty saving his best and sweetest vocal for the very last song.