Marty Stuart performs during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium on … [+]
An established artist in his own right, Marty Stuart is well-known for his love and reverence of country music, and the legendary artists who came before him. The singer, songwriter, and musician extraordinaire was a child prodigy who was so talented on the guitar and mandolin, he was playing with Lester Flatt and making his debut on the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 13. In the five decades since, the 5-Time GRAMMY-winner has become a country musician historian and an avid collector, building the largest private collection of country music artifacts in the world.
In less than two years, more than 20,000 items including Johnny Cash’s first black performance suit, the first instrument Hank Williams Sr ever played, the boots Patsy Cline wore on the day her plane went down in Tennessee, famous guitars, handwritten lyrics, and so much more, will go on display at Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music in his native Philadelphia, Mississippi.
As Stuart played his 19th “Late Night Jam” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the event that comes every year the Wednesday night before Nashville’s annual CMA fest, he used it to help raise funds for the complex through ticket sales, donations, and a silent auction before the show.
Kenny Vaughan, left, and Marty Stuart perform during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at … [+]
He also highlighted some of his collection, inviting his famous friends to play guitars once owned by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, A.P. Carter, and George Jones.
Singer Lainey Wilson played a guitar that belonged to both Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
“The guitar originally belonged to Hank Williams,” Stuart told her. “Hank Jr gave it to Johnny Cash, and Johnny Cash gave it to me.”
Stuart recalled fond memories of Cash playing the guitar on that very stage when Cash did his live TV show on ABC more than five decades ago.
“He would twirl around with that guitar around his neck and say, ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”
Wilson noted she couldn’t quite believe she was holding that same guitar.
Lainey Wilson, left, and Marty Stuart perform during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at … [+]
“I might pass out,” she said. “Someone just catch the guitar, don’t catch me.”
Wilson recalled growing up listening to her own dad play Hank Williams songs as the family gathered round. Calling it a “very special moment,” she the then launched into her rendition of “Lost Highway.”
Stuart’s private collection includes a number of items once owned by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. (As a musician, Stuart joined Cash’s band when Stuart was just 21 years old.)
Some of Stuart’s many artifacts were on display at a private event in East Nashville before his “Late Night Jam.” His extensive collection ranges from outfits to handwritten lyrics to personal items, and much more.
Boots once owned by Patsy Cline
Coat worn by Johnny Cash, created by famed Nashville-based designer, Manuel Cuevas.
Hank Williams – Cancelled Check
Last photo taken of Hank Williams before his death January 1, 1953.
Handwritten lyrics to Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag”
During his Wednesday night show, Stuart played a guitar previously owned by George Jones as he accompanied his wife, the legendary Connie Smith, as she sang Merle Haggard’s “The Fugitive.”
Marty Stuart, left, and Connie Smith perform during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at the … [+]
“George and Merle Haggard were good buddies,” Stuart said. “This is for Haggard on George’s guitar.”
“With Marty Stuart playing it,” Smith added. “You can’t beat that.”
Later in the night, Emmylou Harris would play a guitar once owned by A.P. Carter, as she and Stuart sang a new song they wrote together called, “Three Chords & The Truth.”
Emmylou Harris performs during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium on … [+]
Stuart’s “Late Night Jams” featuring his band, The Fabulous Superlatives have always been a celebration of great songs and exceptional musicianship, and the tradition continued with performances by artists like Marcus King and Billy Strings.
Billy Strings, left, and Marty Stuart perform during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam at … [+]
But this year’s added touch of honoring some of the history with historic guitars and a preview of Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music made it seem even a little more special. And while work is still underway to build and complete the Mississippi complex, the music venue component there – the Ellis Theater – ‘will’ open this year.
Stuart even offered a special invitation to one of his guests, rising country blues guitarist, Jontavious Willis, to join him for Stuart’s first show at the theater on December 8th.
Jontavious Willis, left, and Marty Stuart perform during Marty Stuart’s 19th Annual Late Night Jam … [+]
The goal for the Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music is to both honor and preserve country music’s rich history, and at the same time, help it continue to move forward. It’s a longtime dream about to come true.