Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart to play Park City for the first time on Saturday |

Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart to play Park City for the first time on Saturday

New record is a collection of his favorite songs

Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Marty Stuart, front, is ready to play Park City with his band — guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and bassist Chris Scruggs — on Saturday at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

Five-time Grammy Award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Marty Stuart is looking forward to playing the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts for the first time on Saturday night.

“I dearly love Utah, and I have been in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival,” Stuart said. “It’s a beautiful place, and I look forward to coming back and playing a concert for everyone.”

Stuart’s performance will feature his band — guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and bassist Chris Scruggs.

“This is a deadly and incredibly good group,” he said. “They are modern masters in motion, and a sight to see.”

The musicians will perform mostly acoustic, and the concert will feature songs from his new release, “Songs I Sing in the Dark,” a collection of his favorite, traditional country-music pieces originally recorded by Crystal Gayle, Wille Nelson and Merle Haggard, to name a few.

“I don’t know if I would call it an official album, because it’s a placeholder project I did during the pandemic just to have something out there until the band could get back on the road,” Stuart said. “It was a solo effort I did to keep myself from going crazy, really.”

For years, Stuart thought the phrase “Songs I Sing in the Dark” would make a cool album title, so when he had the chance, he decided to go forward with it.

“What it amounts to is that at the end of the day I’ll pick up my guitar and mandolin and sing songs to entertain myself,” he said. “In a lot of cases these are songs by writers whose work I love. They are old favorites that border on the verge of being obscure, and I felt they needed to be rescued.”

The project also turned into a way for Stuart to inspire young musicians he has admired in Nashville.

“I wanted the record to help them understand the language of traditional country music,” he said.

Traditional country music is what hooked Stuart as a child growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in the first place.

“I can’t remember any time in my life when I didn’t have a guitar in my hands, and I think the thing that attracted me more than anything as a young musician was the stories that country music songs told,” he said. “I would look outside my window, and see those stories in the faces of the people or in the land or local events.”

Stuart’s playing attracted the ear of country-music icon Johnny Cash, who recruited the young musician for his band in the 1980s.

That job opened other doors for Stuart, who has performed with everyone from Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs to Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison.

“I love collaborations,” he said. “Music was made to be shared. It was made to be a collaborative process.”

Collaborations are also a way for Stuart to continue his musical education.

“Even if I sit down and play with a musician who is just beginning to play, I will always find something that will inform or inspire me,” he said. “At the end of the day, when the sessions end and the performances are over, the experience becomes a part of me. It becomes a part of my heart, and I carry it like a little treasure inside of me from then on.”

Since the 1990s, Stuart has enjoyed a successful solo career that has garnered him a Country Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award, a string of Grammys and a 2020 induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

While Stuart is grateful for all the accolades, he sees the Country Music Hall of Fame as the ultimate honor.

“It puts you immediately into the presence of a very elite club of people,” he said. “I’m still country music’s biggest fan, so to be thought of being in the same room as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline is mind boggling.”

Stuart’s love for country music has also spurred his fundraising and raising awareness for the Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music, an education, performance and museum venue in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

“It’s a home to my way-too-many-piece collection, and a place to teach young people about traditional country music,” he said. “It’s also a place where veterans and fans can sit in the same room and share the music, and explore its history.”

Mississippi is a profound place for the arts, and known as the “Birthplace of America’s Music,” according to the state’s Chamber Bureau.

“Up in the northeast corner is Tupelo, which is Elvis Presley’s birthplace, and a place that I call the spiritual home of rock ‘n’ roll,” Stuart said. “Directly across is the Mississippi Delta, which is B.B. King’s birthplace, the home of B.B. King museum and where I call the spiritual home of the blues.”

In addition, the Recording Academy, home of the Grammy Awards, partnered with the Cleveland Music Foundation and set up a 28,000-square-foot Grammy Museum on the Delta State University campus, located in Cleveland, Mississippi, Stuart said.

“And just 35 miles down the road in Meridian, Mississippi, is the place I call the home of country music,” he said. “That’s where Jimmie Rodgers was born.”

While the Congress of Country Music’s mission is to preserve the music Stuart loves, he is always trying to move forward as a musician.

“In my case there is always that next song, or a guitar lick that has never been played,” he said. “The learning curve never ends. That’s the challenge and the beauty of the challenge, and the trick is to stay true to the mission with boots on the ground, feet on the path and hand on the plow.”

Park City Institute presents Marty Stuart

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 21.

Where: The Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.

Cost: $79


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