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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Stuart could use more music, less talk

Indian Ranch, Webster, Mass., Aug. 23,, 1998

By Michael Sudhalter

WEBSTER, MA - Marty Stuart may have entertained the crowd with mostly rockabilly style songs, but while telling some interesting stories, he did not fit enough music into his 75-minute set Sunday.

Starting with "Anything You Asked Me To" and "Gotta Do My Time," it wasn't until the fun-loving, drinking song "The Whiskey Ain't Workin," that the crowd sang along.

"Whiskey" was followed by a lengthy story of how Stuart and Travis Tritt - with whom he recorded the hit - became friends. Stuart poked some fun at his buddy Tritt's shortcomings, but made up for it when he nominated him as the mayor of Webster.

Stuart got back into first gear rockabilly form with the musically interchangeable "Country Girls" and "Western Girls."

He demonstrated his talent as a bluegrass musician, playing mandolin on the intro to "Oh What A Silent Night." Stuart also introduced a song off an upcoming album called "Hobo's Prayer," written from the perspective of a homeless freight train drifter.

One of the most entertaining parts of Stuart's show was the acoustic set. Stuart paid homage to singers like George Jones, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. The half-talk, half-music set, which can usually grow tired on an audience, did the opposite. Many fans did not fail to show their support as Stuart proudly stated the names of these country music legends.

As the Rock N Roll Cowboys came back on stage, Stuart sang "Hillbilly Rock," one of his signature songs.

Stuart showed why he is one of country music's most unique performers, putting a mix of blues, bluegrass and especially rockabilly into his songs. Now if only he could sing more songs and talk less.

Jo Dee Messina, a Massachusetts native who has scored a couple of Number One hits since her last appearance here, showed her energy during her 40-minute set.

Messina, celebrating her 28th birthday, showcased her talents on songs from her current album "I'm Alright" as well as the hits from her self titled debut.

Messina showed that she could put a good amount of variety into her concerts as she sang "I'm Alright," a catchy tune that became Messina's second number one song. She also paid homage to one of her musical heroes, the late Dottie West, with "Lesson in Leavin'" and if that's not enough variety, Messina even did a combination of Gloria Estefan's "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You/ Get On Your Feet."

Perhaps the most touching part of Messina's set was the ballad "Even God Must Get The Blues." The song will make any listener with half a heart wonder why there are so many problems in our country today. Messina, unlike some other New Country artists, sang this ballad straight from her heart.