Usually that's plenty for me, but every now and then, I'll stumble on something contemporary that I'd really like to see. The Marty Stuart Show just made that list.
Though I don't know if I can rightly call it contemporary. Airing on RFD-TV, a farm themed network that is best known for HEE HAW reruns, the show is modeled after country entertainment from an earlier time.
[caption id="attachment_1784" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Dolly Parton on The Marty Stuart Show"][/caption]
In the 1960s and 70s, music legends performed in front of a two camera set-up with faux barn backdrops that were as convincing as sets from a junior high play. There were no pyrotechnics, no rhythmic lights, no dancers. On shows hosted by the likes of Porter Wagner and the Wilburn brothers, they didn't even bother to hide the microphone cords.
This is where country music mainstay Marty Stuart found his inspiration. “It was intimate, it was homespun, it was folk art, it was cultural,” he recently told Bluegrass Unlimited. “But, at the same time, it was just great country entertainment.”
RFD-TV has been the one TV outlet consistently airing these classic shows, so eight years ago, Marty Stuart approached the network's founder and president Patrick Gottsch and pitched him. He said, "Why doesn’t somebody redo the old Porter Wagoner show? Why doesn’t somebody redo the Flatt & Scruggs show, the Wilburn Brothers show?"
It took little convincing. Gottsch had built his business on a rural market that mainstream networks had overlooked.
In November 1998, The Marty Stuart Show premiered. The 1970s split rail sets were replaced with patriotic bunting and pieces of country music memorabilia--vintage stagewear, outsider art in the likeness of Hank Williams, and early instruments, including "the priceless prewar Martin D-45 guitar given him by former boss (and ex-father-in-law) Johnny Cash."
Otherwise, Stuart left this throwback entertainment model alone. Like its predecessors, his show is a low-production showplace for country music's brightest, including some of the best musicians from the Appalachian South. The iconic Del McCoury Band appeared on the show. So has Appalachia's favorite songbird, Dolly Parton, and in the below clip, you can hear Dale Jett, son of Janette Carter and a Blue Ridge native, sing the Carter family classic "Anchored in Love Divine."
Stuart's understated format works. It draws about two millions viewers a month from rural and urban areas alike. Bluegrass Unlimited wrote, "His show’s broad appeal is represented by the celebrities in the audience during one production day. For the Whites’ morning taping, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant are there; in the afternoon, when Ricky Skaggs is the guest, Lester Flatt’s widow Gladys and daughter Tammy are on hand. 'It’s kind of the story of my life,' says Stuart. 'Keith Richards one day and Ernest Tubb the next feels normal to me.'”
Have you been among the millions who enjoy The Marty Stuart Show? What do you think about its simple format and line-up of guests? If I bring some popcorn and sodas, mind if I come over to borrow your cable and watch an episode alongside you?