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.