Marty Stuart loves honky tonkin' best – July 1996
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Marty Stuart loves honky tonkin' best  Print

By Jeffrey B. Remz, July 1996

The hats still are nowhere to be found this time around, but that suits Marty Stuart just fine.

This time, the Marty Party man is back, seeking Double Trouble. At least, that's the name of his current year-long tour with cohort Travis Tritt.

Four years ago, Tritt and Stuart went out on their very successful No Hats tour, eschewing the trademark tattoo of this decade's Hot Young Country musicians. Stuart and Tritt scored big time with "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore," going to the top of the charts.

The following year, Stuart released "This One's Gonna Hurt You," with the title track being the second duet between the two buddies, someone Stuart refers to as "my brother."

Due to a series of other commitments, the two were unable to get it together again until this year, though the plan always had been to record and tour together again.

Their first collaboration this year is the title track of Stuart's new disc, "Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best." A second will be "Double Trouble," out in late August on Tritt's forthcoming CD, "The Restless Kind."

Just three dates into a tour that started in Pittsburgh, Stuart, 37, already expressed satisfaction with the results. "I felt like it finally got a bit of semblance of order to it," he said after a hot show in Boston with each sitting in on the other's set and doing a set together. "We can really get back and hook it down."

To Stuart, the goods must to be delivered on stage. "You can rehearse and rehearse and put it together on paper and work out the bugs you want to, but there is nothing like putting it in front of people," he said from a pit stop in Rapid City, S.D. "After two or three, if it's not headed in the right direction, you're in trouble. It's the people that count."

Stuart, whose last album "Love and Luck" did not catapult to the fore of country, explained the five-year delay between tours. "We just didn't have the music together," he said. "We didn't have any new songs we worked out. I didn't have an album out last year because of a greatest hits record."

That was Stuart's "Marty Party Hit Pack."

It's quickly clear that Stuart and Tritt click together well in concert.

Why? "I think there is a lot of similarity in our musical style and backgrounds," Stuart says. "The sky's the limit. Let's see how far we can go. I think it's a total reckless abandon. He's not afraid of anything musically. That's the kind of partner you like to have."

Stuart and Tritt have Johnny Carson to thank, in part, for their union. "He was one of the first people that I wondered if anybody I could play music with," Stuart says of Tritt. "I loved his voice, and I saw him on Johnny Carson. He was really cocky. I admired his style. When I wrote the song, 'Whiskey,' he picked it up, and I thought 'all right.'"

Stuart happened to be in Music City above five years ago and knew Tritt was performing at Opryland. Tritt already recorded the song, but the two hadn't seen each other since.

"I just swung by the amphitheater real fast, to thank him appreciate recording one of my songs," Stuart says.

When the two talked, Stuart says Tritt asked him to "just walk out and sing that verse you sing. So I did. When I did, the place went ape. So, we just looked at each other, (saying) 'what's going on here?' The fans just dug it."

That was during Fan Fair. For rest of that week, Stuart says, "everybody was just talking about it, (us) working together. We just kind of stumbled into it."

In 1992, Stuart released "This One's Gonna Hurt You."The album eventually sold more than 500,000 units, Stuart's first gold disc.

The two won the Country Music Association's vocal event of the year. Stuart also became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Stuart's last regular disc was "Love & Luck," out in 1994. The disc contained many strong cuts and certainly was musically quite different from what was coming out of most of Nashville, but did not equal the success of "This One's..."

Stuart offers an explanation.

"The 'Love and Luck' was really a hard record," Stuart says. "I had lost like 26 friends in one year. I don't know what happened. There were some major ones. I was at the tail end of a personal relationship. That was kind of weird. It's kind of hard to make a record under that cloud."

"Right now, I'm happy," Stuart says. "My heart is in good shape. I got two Fender Telecasters and a cowboy coat."

"It has a smile on it," he said. "Hopefully that will translate."

The new disc is far more upbeat when it comes to the subject of love than "Love and Luck." Instead of tales of love's despair, Stuart seems to have found a modicum of happiness.

"I just think it's just play the music," Stuart says of the disc's attitude. "I hear songs that sound like pretty good records. I had more fun making this record. I was ready for it. I had the time to sit back and write the songs. I had the time. I was rested. I wasn't on tour. That's all the focus I had. I think it works. The songs come back right back on stage. The response to them, it's a pretty good indication."

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