Mark Edgar Stuart
1555 Madison Ave.
Memphis, TN, 38104
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Watch & Listen
On his last two albums, Jason Eady earned major acclaim for his ahead-of-thecurve
take on classic country, a bold departure from his earlier excursions into
blues-infused Americana. Now with his sixth album, the Mississippi-bred
singer/guitarist merges his distinct sensibilities into a stripped-down, rootsoriented
sound that starkly showcases the gritty elegance of his songwriting.
The follow-up to 2014’s critically praised Daylight/Dark—an album that “belongs
on a shelf next to Dwight Yoakam’s Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room, Joe
Ely’s Letter to Laredo, and yes, even Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages,”
according to AllMusic—Eady’s latest finds the Fort Worth, Texas-based artist
again teaming up with producer Kevin Welch. Now longtime collaborators (with
their past efforts including 2012’s AM Country Heaven, a top 40 debut on the
Billboard Top Country Albums chart), Eady and Welch worked closely in crafting
the album’s acoustic-driven yet lushly textured aesthetic. “At the beginning I told
everyone I wanted to make a record where, if the power went out, we could still
sit down and play all the songs the exact same way,” says Eady, who points out
that steel guitar is the only electric instrument featured on the album.
Despite its subtle approach, the album radiates a warm vitality that’s got much to
do with Eady’s gift for nuanced yet unaffected slice-of-life storytelling. “I’ve
always been drawn to writing that’s got a simplicity to it, where you’re digging
deep into real day-to-day life,” he notes. Here, that means touching on such
matters as turning 40 (on the reflective, soul-stirring “40 Years”), his daughter’s
growing up and going off to college (on the sweetly heartbreaking “Not Too
Loud”), and the everyday struggle to “embrace the messy parts of life instead of
trying to get the point where you’ve somehow fixed all your problems” (on “Rain,”
a joyfully determined anthem featuring SteelDrivers fiddler Tammy Rogers).
Throughout the album, Eady’s soulfully rugged voice blends in beautiful
harmonies with his wife, singer/songwriter Courtney Patton. And on “No Genie in
This Bottle,” the legendary Vince Gill lends his singular vocals to what Eady
refers to as a “good old country drinking song.”
In each track, Eady reveals a sharp sense of songcraft he’s honed since
childhood. “Even back in my early days of getting into music, I always cared
more about the writers than the singers,” says Eady, who grew up in Jackson.
“I’d look up who’d written a certain song, and then go seek out more songs from
that writer.” At age 14—the same year he started writing his own material—Eady
began performing in local bars and showing his natural grasp of everything from
soul and R&B to blues and country. After some time in the Air Force, he moved
to Fort Worth and started playing open mic nights, where he quickly built up a
devoted following. By 2005, Eady had made his debut with the independently
released From Underneath The Old.
For Eady—who names Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson among his
main inspirations—instilling each song with so much graceful honesty proved to
be his greatest achievement and thrill in creating the new album. “When you first
get started making music, your ideas are grandiose and more about the big
picture. But the longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized that the real joy
comes from the process rather than the end goal,” he says. “Now it’s about
getting better and finding more of myself with every album. So instead of writing
what I think people want to hear, I’m writing what I want to write and trusting
that—as long as it’s coming from an honest place—it’ll hopefully mean something
to the people listening too.”
Mark Edgar Stuart
In 2011, Mark Edgar Stuart had a bad year. A few months after being diagnosed with cancer, a lifelong friend and hero--his father Lou--passed. From that heartache came a new, unexpected outlet: the decorated sideman (band-mate of Alvin Youngblood Hart, John Paul Keith, Jack Oblivian, and more) began writing his own songs. The bassist became a singer-songwriter, and Mark Edgar Stuart began to tell his own story.
Fortunately for us, he’s a natural-born storyteller.
Blues For Lou--Stuart’s debut album--is a collection of songs written in the wake of his father’s passing. Fittingly, Stuart’s songwriting pays tribute to the people, places, and music he and his father shared. Produced by Jeff Powell (Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Allman Brothers), the album tells a sad story happily. Sunny acoustic guitars, breezily melodies, and restrained performances backdrop songs about loss. Powell’s production and Stuart’s pitch-perfect vocals put a brave face on a hard tale.
From the opening track, the album disarms and astonishes with its vividly-realized stories and characters, small towns and living rooms, past loves and troubles ahead. “Remote Control” extends a single metaphor to tell a heart-breaking story of loss. “Almost Mine” casts a warm, generous light on unrequited love. “Arkansas Is Nice” uses a castoff line of dialog to describe everything a hometown is and isn’t. From the plain-spoken poetry of “Things Ain’t Fine” to the gorgeous epitaph “Blues For Lou,” Stuart’s stories are sweet but never saccharine, even-keeled but deeply affecting. His songs are at once sad, nostalgic, knowing, funny, even cheerful--equal parts Roger Miller and Eudora Welty. And Stuart sings them with the confidence of someone who knows that the story is enough.
Blues For Lou is both a tribute to Mark Edgar Stuart’s late father and an homage to the style of music they shared. It’s lovable and literary, smart yet plain-spoken, heartening, funny, and always memorable. It sounds new and familiar, fresh yet timeless. It sounds like your favorite stories, retold by your closest friend.
Lean in, listen close, and smile
--Written by Chris Milam