Marty Stuart – guitar, vocals
Cousin Kenny Vaughan – guitar
Gary Carter – steel guitar
Apostle Paul Martin – bass
Handsome Harry Stinson – drums
Thanks to Dan Margard, moderator of the “Clarence White Fans” Facebook group, for posting this video the other day. It’s taken from “The Marty Stuart Show” on February 13, 2010, the same day “Hummingbyrd” earned him a Grammy (his fifth) for Best Country Instrumental Performance. The song is one of the highlights on Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions), last year’s excellent release that also features the last recorded appearance of Ralph Mooney. Marty reflected to CMT:
“It really means the world to me to be recognized by my peers for this piece. My main electric guitar belonged to Clarence White, the great guitarist for The Byrds. After Clarence’s death, I bought this guitar from his wife. I’ve played it on a lot of hits and on a lot of records, but I’ve never felt like — to the Clarence White fans who watch me or who actually watch the guitar — I’ve laid down a profound instrumental and gave it a title that pays homage to Clarence. I consider it my B-Bender recital piece.”
Maybe it’s me hearing what I wanna hear, but damn if Stuart doesn’t get inside of White’s unique Bender style. Sure, it probably helps a little bit to be playing Clarence’s actual guitar (pictured above), but tone is all about the player, and Marty delivers the CW tone in uncanny amounts. Besides, anyone who can rock the baby blue scarf while simultaneously throwing down heroic amounts of twang has to be legit. You can’t go halfway on the scarf. If you’re gonna scarf, go full scarf.
“Hummingbyrd,” of course, is a direct tribute to the Parsons/White showstopper, “Nashville West,” a song that’s always worth revisiting.
Byrds – Nashville West
This is the Untitled version, but it actually dates back to White’s time in The Reasons (aka Nashville West). Clarence and Gene Parsons more than likely came up with it jamming at a gig, I’d say sometime in 1966-67. In fact, “Nashville West” probably evolved out of covering “Buckaroo” by Buck Owens, Don Rich, and The Buckaroos. That was a hit in late 1965/early 1966, so the timing is right.
Marty Stuart has long heralded the healing power of Buck Owens and Don Rich, let alone Fender Telecasters. (You may remember Buck and Don from such Adios Lounge posts as Don Rich: Buckersfield Harmony and Don Rich Redux.) Ghost Train brought this connection full circle since it was Ralph Mooney who helped invent the Bakersfield Sound back in the 1950s along with two of his former bosses, Buck and Wynn Stewart.
Will the circle be unbroken? Not if I have anything to say about it.