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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThere was a point in Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives' standing room only sell out at the Old Town School Of Folk Music where the esteemed leader proclaimed the room an American treasure. Though that's certainly the case regarding his most regular place of employment in Chicago, it takes one to know one and this country/bluegrass/gospel/rockabilly/Americana troubadour more than earned such status between this band, his solo career, plus playing with the legendary likes of Johnny Cash and Lester Flatt.
He may not be cranking out the honky-tonk hits like he did in the '80s and '90s, but along with his trusty backers, Stuart has since carved out a credible niche of neo-traditionalism that respects all the southern greats from yesteryear, but brings an immense breath of purified air in the frequently watered down present. In fact, the troupe's near two-hour set was filled with just as many hat tips to several late greats as the current "Way Out West," along with at least a little something from Stuart's more than four decades in circulation.
For starters, Stuart and the threesome rollicked their way through "I Know You Rider" and then kicked up so much dust on "Country Boy Rock & Roll," it could've easily passed as a finale. "That's it, goodnight," the leader teased following the roaring ovation, though it was just the beginning to their final show for the entire year as echoed it the fire-starting follow-up "Whole Lotta Highway (With A Million Miles To Go)."
Along the journey, there was also a flashback to the witty "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," tales of the group's close relationship with the Native Americans community in South Dakota surrounding the thought-provoking "Casino," plus tributes to Jimmie Rodgers, Grady Martin, Woody Guthrie and Ervin T. Rouse. The latter's "Orange Blossom Special" had everyone gasping as Stuart slayed a mandolin solo, though it was an encore of the hushed "Hummingbyrd," the veritable standard "Long Black Veil" and the instantly memorable new tune "Time Don't Wait" that brought extra justification to Fabulous Superlatives' namesake, who along with their fearless leader, actually transcended any words that could properly describe their greatness.
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