Outlaw country stars Brent Cobb and Chris Stapleton sandwiched the rhinestone-boot-wearing Nashville country great Marty Stuart at the Amp on Friday, June 22, letting us forget about what’s happening in pop country today.
Cobb, the Georgia born singer-songwriter took the stage first for a heavy-hitting, 30-minute set. While his recently released studio album, Providence Canyon, features more acoustic guitar-driven songs, his live show was as much southern rock as it was country.
Following Cobb, Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives took the stage in coordinating black and blue, rhinestone embellished, Country & Western outfits for a far better than expected show (and I came with high hopes). They opened the set with Stuart’s honky-tonk classics, getting the crowd moving, but quickly showed their versatility and vocal range with a powerful cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash and an acoustic, bluegrass cover of “Pretty Boy Floyd” by Woody Guthrie. Marty and his band even yodeled A capella, a skill he claimed he learned in Mountain Home, before he shredded on a well-worn and autographed mandolin. The band members each lead a song of their own, displaying the impressive vocal, as well as instrumental, talent in Marty’s band. The crowd was engaged and wooing throughout Marty’s set. Marty’s showmanship oozed from the start to close of the set.
Finally, five-time Grammy award-winning artist Chris Stapleton took the stage before a sold out crowd. Stapleton’s rightfully loyal fans showed out, and his grit-and-honey voice and bluesy guitar riffs did not disappoint.
Stapleton opened with “Midnight Train to Memphis,” a song he originally wrote and recorded with his former band, the Steeldrivers. The rocking, outlaw country continued over the next few opening tracks, including “Them Stems,” “Nobody to Blame,” and “Hard Livin’.”
The crowd sat down for the love song, “Millionaire,” written by Kevin Welch out of Austin. Stapleton followed with another sweet, singalong ballad “Fire Away,” ending it by asking the crowd to wave their lighters and phones in the air for the final verse.
Next, Stapleton brought out Cobb to play “Might As Well Get Stoned.” This collaboration featured a bluesy, slide solo from Stapleton’s guitar player, before playing “Trying to Untangle My Mind.”
Stuart joined Stapleton to play two of Stuart’s songs, “Now That’s Country” and “Honky Tonk is What I Do Best.” Following the collaboration with Stuart, Stapleton took back the spotlight to play a breathtaking, “Difference Between Whiskey and You,” solo with his acoustic guitar.
The full band came back for the rest of the set including, “Broken Halos,” “Second One to Know,” “Traveller,” “I Was Wrong,” a mashup of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and “Devil Named Music,” and “Parachute.” Stapleton finished the set with one of his most popular songs, “Tennessee Whiskey,” introducing his band while still singing.
The band exited the stage briefly and returned for a brief, three-song encore, including “Outlaw State of Mind,” “Death Row,” and “Sometimes I Cry.”