Playing the Nation like 'coming home,' Stuart says

(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)

Lead guitarist Kenny Vaughn, left, and legendary singer Marty Stuart, second from left, drummer Harry Stinson, and bassist Paul Martin sing for their fans Sept. 4 in Window Rock.

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 12, 2013

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Five-time Grammy-winning Country Singer Marty Stuart felt like he came back home as he played for a crowd of country lovers at the Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena during the Navajo Nation Fair on Sept. 4.

"I feel the pull of the spirit more than anything else, it's a powerful spiritual ground and my spirit comes to life," Marty Stuart said of why he comes back to the Navajo Nation when he can.

"I love traveling all over the world, but there's something about coming here, the spirit is really alive and well out here," Stuart added.

Stuart and his band drew a crowd of maybe a hundred people last week as he took them on ride through some classic country music.

"I knew all the old songs that my mom and dad used to listen to," said Juliana Cojo from Ramah, N.M. of the Marty Stuart show, adding that he still sounds like he did from "back in the day."

Stuart said he prefers to play the smaller shows because he likes the backroads of America and he understands that "not everybody can drive into the rez and pull out a guitar and go to work."

"I count it as an honor to be able to do that," Stuart added.

"Not many country stars come out here to perform, and he took the time to come out," said Joe Bigman from Shonto, Ariz., adding that he thought it was a great experience to see Stuart and his band perform for the reservation.

"Native Americans really know how to whoop and holler, and when they whoop and holler it makes us play better," Stuart said of the fans that came out to see him last Wednesday night.

Whoop and holler they did and concertgoer Janice Dale from Hunters Point, Ariz. said her favorite part of the show was Stuart's interaction with the crowd.

Stuart got big reactions to his song "Burn Me Down," Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," and when he told the crowd "We're going to play some hillbilly rock because it makes me feel like a Navajo," before playing his song "Hillbilly Rock."

"I had a lot of fun. It would've been a lot nicer if the fair really promoted him more," Cojo added because she felt a lot more people would've showed up. But that didn't ruin her night because to top it off Cojo was able to meet Stuart after the concert.

"That was icing on top of the cake," she said.

Another fan favorite was a song called "Choctaw Fair," a song Stuart said is dedicated to the time he fell in love with his wife Connie Smith.

Stuart told the audience that he first met his wife when he was 12 years old after seeing her perform at the Choctaw fair. He convinced her to marry him 25 years later, he said.

New fan Hayden Duboise from Ramah, N.M. felt the overall experience was amazing.

Duboise said his music was different because it sounded more country than today's artists.

Nina Brown of Shonto, Ariz. said she loved the outfits worn by Stuart and his band. Stuart came out on stage wearing black leather pants, a black jacket with tassels hanging from his sleeves and a black scarf, his band mates were wearing jackets covered in colorful beadwork.

"They were blingy," Duboise said, adding that Stuart's guitar player Kenny Vaughn was very stylish and an awesome performer.

"I love the Navajo Nation," Stuart said adding that back in 1989 the Nation was one of the first places he toured when he started out his solo career.

"We were going out to the West Coast to do a show for Willy Nelson, and the first show we worked together as a band was at the Civic Center [now called the Window Rock Sports Center]," Stuart added, and since then he loves coming back because "the people made me feel welcome and I felt the same way tonight, I felt like I came back home."

Before his solo career Stuart spent six years in Johnny Cash's band in the 1980s and before that with bluegrass artist Lester Flatt in the 1970s.

Contact Shondiin Silversmith at 928-871-1138 or