Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
This event is all ages
Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives
With legends like George Jones, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard all passed on, country music purists often echo the question Jones himself asked: “Who’s going to fill their shoes?” The answer, in part, is Marty Stuart.
While he’s too gracious to admit it himself, the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and musician is living, breathing country-music history. He’s played alongside the masters, from Cash to Lester Flatt, who discovered him; been a worldwide ambassador for Nashville, Bakersfield and points in between; and safeguarded country’s most valuable traditions and physical artifacts. Including its literal shoes: Stuart counts the brogan of Carter Family patriarch A.P. Carter and an assortment of Cash’s black boots among his vast collection of memorabilia.
But most importantly, Stuart continues to record and release keenly relevant music, records that honor country’s rich legacy while advancing it into the future. Way Out West, his 18th studio album, hits both of those marks. Produced by Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), the album is a cinematic tour-de-force, an exhilarating musical journey through the California desert that solidifies Stuart as a truly visionary artist.
Opening with a Native American prayer, a nod to Stuart’s affinity for the indigenous people, particularly the Lakota, Way Out West transports the listener to the lonely but magical American West. It is, in its own way, musical peyote.
“If you go and sit by yourself in the middle of the Mojave Desert at sundown and you’re still the same person the next morning when the sun comes up, I’d be greatly surprised,” says Stuart. “It is that spirit world of the West that enchants me.”
Specifically the promised land of California. Growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Stuart was taken by the mystique of the Golden State: the culture, the movies and especially the music. “Everything that came out of California captivated my kid mind in Mississippi,” he says. “It seemed like a fantasy land. Way Out West is a love letter to that.”
As such, the album could only be recorded there, and Stuart, with his longtime backing band the Fabulous Superlatives, decamped for California. They recorded half of the album at Capitol Records and the rest at Campbell’s M.C. Studio, a gritty space with a vibe all its own. Much of the early Heartbreakers music was recorded at Campbell’s and that primal rock & roll energy is palpable throughout Way Out West, reinforced by Capitol’s own rock history: the Hollywood studio birthed iconic records like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the country-rock of Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman. Way Out West, with its atmospheric production, evokes those classics, as well as cowboy records like Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs and Cash’s The Fabulous Johnny Cash, one of the first albums Stuart ever owned.
“This is a California record, and I knew that when I emerged from the studio at night, I wanted to see palm trees and breathe that desert air,” says Stuart.
Listeners too can feel the warmth of those Santa Ana winds over the album’s 15 tracks, a collection of newly written originals, instrumentals and rare covers like the Benny Goodman-penned “Air Mail Special,” and “Lost on the Desert,” once recorded by Johnny Cash.
“I asked Johnny about that song when I was in his band, and he said the only thing he remembered about it was changing some words,” laughs Stuart. “But Way Out West just as easily could have been titled Lost on the Desert.”
The idea of losing oneself runs through Way Out West, with the title track both a spiritual adventure and a cautionary tale – Stuart wraps up the travel ballad with a spoken aside about his own bad trips with pills.
“I researched that for 30 years,” he jokes, self-deprecatingly. “There’s a lot of truth in that song.”
The rollicking standout “Time Don’t Wait” also offers a warning: to not let life race by. “As the dirt fell through my fingers / the wind it seemed to say / don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can today,” sings Stuart. “That’s just country wisdom. I can’t claim that. But I like when you can talk about the simple things that are around us. That makes country music come to life for me,” he says.
When it comes to transforming country songs into tangible experience, Stuart has a secret weapon: the Fabulous Superlatives. Made up of guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and new member, bassist Chris Scruggs, the Superlatives are an extension of Stuart himself.
“The Superlatives are missionaries, they’re fighting partners. They’re my Buckaroos, my Tennessee Three, my Strangers. They’re my legacy band and have been since Day One,” says Stuart.
Along with the playing of Mike Campbell, who contributed guitar, B-3 organ and piano, the Fabulous Superlatives are all over Way Out West and ensure that the mystical detours Stuart explores always remain of the moment.
As Stuart himself will tell you, he often ventures off the reservation – in a way, his entire career has been “way out west.” While other artists chased popular trends in the name of radio play, he formed complete bodies of work, not unlike the greats he idolized. Way Out West is just the latest embodiment of that creative mission.
“I would play this record for Hank Williams, Merle Haggard or Ernest Hemingway and never bat an eye,” says Stuart. “There’s something in there that would entertain each of them.”
But Stuart also made Way Out West for those who come after. As he sees it, there is no greater responsibility in music than to share what you’ve learned.
“Lester Flatt saw something in me and gave me his wisdom, wit and music. Johnny Cash was my best friend. But all of that doesn’t come for free. The job is to pass it along,” says Stuart, stretching out his arms. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be in country music.”
With Way Out West, Stuart holds up his end of the deal.
Deke Dickerson is one of America’s musical treasures. As an entertainer and musician, he has toured the world and established himself as one of the foremost purveyors of roots music, headlining festivals from Las Vegas to Finland.
As a writer and music historian, he is well known for his regular column in Guitar Player magazine. He recently authored two enormous essay projects for Bear Family’s Merle Haggard box sets. The one for Concepts, Live & The Strangers won an Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) in 2009.
As an entrepreneur, Deke has partnered with Hallmark Guitars to produce the Deke Dickerson model guitar, whose design is as unique as its namesake.
As a behind-the-scenes mover and shaker, Deke has recorded songs that have been featured in a variety of movies, TV shows, and radio programs, from the Oscar-winning movie Sideways to Johnny Knoxville’s documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia to the hugely popular XM Sirius satellite radio show Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan. For this last, Deke not only contributed background guitar music but was also interviewed and quoted by Bob Dylan.
Deke’s latest project is his new studio album, King of the Whole Wide World. Like his previous albums it’s a musical journey through the twisted roots of Americana, but this time the roots go deeper than ever before.
He comments, “People love to label me rockabilly, but that’s just a small fraction of what I do. There are a couple of great rockabilly songs on the new album, but there are a lot of other styles as well, from bluegrass (“Boone County Blues”) to Western swing (“Misshapen Hillbilly Gal”) to Memphis soul (“Make Way for a Better Man”) to doo-wop and rhythm and blues (“Itchin’ for My Baby”). The title track (“King of the Whole Wide World”) could even be called old-timey; it’s a tongue-in-cheek, autobiographical song about being a rich man without the constraints of money or fame. I decided the song sounded better with some 78 rpm record noise dubbed onto it. Call me sentimental, but I really think music like that sounds better with a little grit.”
For the recording process, Deke enlisted the help of the many friends he’s made during his musical journeys. The core band consists of “Crazy” Joe Tritschler, the new guitar whiz-kid that has proved a fan favorite, as well as his old friends Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague on drums, Wally Hersom and Jimmy Sutton on bass, and Carl Sonny Leyland on the piano.
Guest artists include the western swing band the Lucky Stars, who back up Deke on the politically incorrect (but very funny) “Misshapen Hillbilly Gal,” and Mary Huff of Southern Culture on the Skids, who contributes high harmony vocals on the honky-tonk number “Do You Think of Me.”
All in all, King of the Whole Wide World proves why Deke Dickerson could be called the Renaissance man of roots music. Rising above the numerous revivalists and cartoonlike retro bands on today’s scene, he has forged something new, exciting, and original, utilizing all the great American musical styles of the last century to take his musical journey forward, not backward.
Deke is, as always, on the road. Tours across the United States are being supplemented with trips abroad to Australia, Europe, and even Estonia! Perhaps the title King of the Whole Wide World isn’t so tongue-in-cheek after all.
Adv Tix $28.00 / Day of Show Tix $30.00 / VIP1 $149.00 /VIP2 $99.00