by Julian Spivey
I was thrilled when I found out that Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives would be opening for Chris Stapleton during his fall tour that makes a stop in my home state of Arkansas.
Few, if any, acts represent country music and everything the genre means more than Marty Stuart and his incredibly talented band. I had the honor of seeing Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives for the first-time last fall in the small town of Cotter, Ark. But, that was before the group released one of the best country and Americana albums of this year Way Out West. I look forward to hearing parts of the record live.
I believe that Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives are a terrific opening act for Stapleton, who also has released one of the best country/Americana albums of the year in From A Room, Vol. 1, as the mix of someone helping get the country genre back to the sound it should have (Stapleton) and a veteran who’s always done country the way it’s supposed to be (Stuart) makes for a statement, as much as it does for a terrific night of music.
Not everybody felt that Stuart was a good opener. Some people were probably scratching their heads wondering who the hell Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives are. If so, that’s incredibly disheartening, but in no way surprising. I don’t worry so much about these fans, but I do hope they enter the tour with an open-mind and open ears and come away with a new favorite act and further knowledge of the country music genre. I hope they pay attention and don’t use the opening set as an extended beer run.
The fans who I’m a little more perturbed by are the ones who are fans of Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives and don’t believe he should be opening for Stapleton. These fans believe Stuart, a legend in their eyes and rightfully so, shouldn’t be opening for an up-and-comer (also in their eyes) like Stapleton. It’s a matter of disrespect to them, but they fail to see how great of a thing it is for one of their favorite artists.
After seeing Stuart’s official Twitter handle tweet about him supporting Stapleton in October and November a few days ago I saw a response that said: “I can’t hold it in any longer … Marty better not be OPENING for him. Marty Stuart does not open shows for anyone. I hope I misunderstood that.”
I responded to this person and we had a delightful debate, though he never did fully come around to my point of view. I told him that Stuart opening for Stapleton was a good thing because the arena sized crowds would be the biggest venues Stuart has played for in many years, meaning his music and newest release would be heard by many more people than on one of his tours. And, unlike a Marty Stuart tour his music would be new to many among the Stapleton fan-base, especially many younger fans who are excited by Stapleton’s resurrection of what country music should be. If these fans are open-minded and willing to listen to Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives I have no doubt that they’ll became attracted to his brand of music and it would not only be a winning situation for Stuart, but for the genre in general and a growing batch of music lovers.
I’ve seen this work before. A few years ago, one of my all-time favorite artists Dwight Yoakam was opening shows for one of my favorite modern day country stars Eric Church. Yoakam was an act I had always wanted to see in concert, but had never had the chance. Church brought him to Little Rock’s Verizon Arena and gave me that chance. He also introduced many of his young fan-base to Yoakam’s Bakersfield, honky tonk sound and I know some in the audience became Yoakam fans that very night. I expect the same exact thing to happen with Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives opening for Stapleton and I look forward to it.
by Julian Spivey
Up-and-comer Aubrie Sellers put on a fantastic show for the visitors of the annual Toad Suck Daze festival in Conway, Ark. on Friday, May 6.
Sellers has seemingly coined her own subgenre of music called “garage-country,” which fuses country music with a garage rock band sound and is absolutely fantastic, and certainly makes her standout from the crowd.
Talent obviously runs in the family as Sellers is the daughter of award-winning country songstress Lee Ann Womack and singer-songwriter Jason Sellers, who’s most noteworthy contribution is a co-write of the award-winning Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” You can tell she’s Womack’s daughter by looking at her, but her sound is completely different with a heavier atmosphere.
Sellers’ debut album New City Blues was released in early 2016 and drew rave reviews from critics and allowed her to make television appearances on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
She opened her Toad Suck Daze set, which would be around an hour-long, with “Light of Day,” the opening track from her debut, which shows off this “garage-country” style perfectly. “Light of Day” is one of the best songs off her debut, but there really aren’t any misses on the 14-track album.
Sellers would perform most of New City Blues on Friday night, including the terrific “Sit Here & Cry,” her latest single “Liar Liar” and my personal favorite from the record “Loveless Rolling Stone.”
“Loveless Rolling Stone,” which NPR called “the existential testament of heartbreak,” was written by the fantastic Brent Cobb and is the sad story of someone who can’t settle down and find love through their own fault.
Sellers’ debut album mostly features songs which you could describe as downers, even though many of them are great rockers, but she does have one nice love song in her early career repertoire in “Something Special,” which she delighted the crowd with.
Sellers peppered her set on the Main Stage at Simon Park, where the Toad Suck Daze festival is held annually, with covers that really won the small, but entertained audience over. Two of my favorite performances of her show were her cover of The Kinks classic “All Day and All of the Night,” which you could tell was a key influence on her “garage-country” style, and the lowkey beautifulness of The Beach Boys’ “In My Room,” which appears as a bonus track on her album.
She also entertained the crowd with fantastic covers of Emmylou Harris’ “Luxury Liner” and Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want).”
Sellers has the makings of one of country and Americana’s next big stars, but her sound is likely not something you’re going to hear much, if at all, on country radio (which is a shame). If you ever get a chance to see her around your area you shouldn’t miss out.