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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Chris Stapleton’s All American Road Show brings bang for the buck with Stuart and Stone

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives will open dates for Chris Stapleton this summer – including this weekend in Spokane – before launching a headlining tour in August.  (ALYSSE GAFKJEN)
By Ed Condan For The Spokesman-Review For The Spokesman-Review

There are a number of reasons to arrive early for Chris Stapleton’s sold out tour opener Thursday at the Spokane Arena. Local boy made good Allen Stone will kick off Stapleton’s “All American Road Show.” The soulful Spokane resident will deliver tracks from his latest album, “Apart.”

Flamboyant country legend Marty Stuart will follow and showcase tracks from his most recent release, “Altitude,” with his crack band, The Fabulous Superlatives.

The Country Music Hall of Famer’s first album in six years is filled with rollicking, guitar driven tunes and gorgeous harmonies.

“Several of the songs on ‘Altitude’ were born at soundcheck at various shows along the way, and they just continue to get better,” Stuart said while calling from Nashville.

Stuart, 64, improves as well. The five-time Grammy winner is still creating at a high level in his supposed twilight years. The stylish Stuart, who sometimes rocks a rhinestone-studded suit jacket designed by Nudie Cohn, has crafted some of his finest material over the last three albums.

“Way Out West,” which was released in 2017, is arguably the greatest project of Stuart’s 17-album canon. It’s an eclectic collection of songs about quirky rebels ranging from truckers to surfers to cowboys. Stuart’s unwavering love of the Byrds is reflected.

“The timeless jangle of it all,” Stuart said of the Byrds’ appeal. “I see the past, present and future when I hear Byrds records.”

Stuart blasted Byrds tunes during the pandemic and spent considerable time working on “Altitude” while in seclusion during lockdown.

“The pandemic was directly responsible for ‘Time to Dance,’ ” Stuart said. “ ‘Sitting Alone’ was written several months before the pandemic occurred and I didn’t know what the song meant when I first wrote it but I liked it. While the world was locked down, ‘Sitting Alone’ came into focus.”

It won’t be easy for the eccentric maverick to slip in as much of “Altitude” as he would like while playing an abbreviated set, but Stuart will figure it out. “I’ll manage,” Stuart said. “Songs come and go on our set list. Different situations, different kinds of shows call for different songs, but it’s great to have such a great lexicon of songs to choose from.”

Stuart will dig deep into his catalog of tunes when he embarks on a headlining tour in mid-August. However, Stuart is thrilled to be part of the Stapleton tour since he’s a huge fan of the country maverick.

“I love Chris Stapleton and I think for my money he is the guy carrying the flag on his shoulders for country music right now,” Stuart said. “I’ve known him for many years through many incarnations and he’s always been the same old Chris. Nothing’s changed. The world finally found him.”

Stapleton, like Stuart, is an uncompromising singer-songwriter, who is an accomplished performer. Stapleton, 45, crafted a number of hits from stars ranging from Tim McGraw to Darius Rucker to Kenny Chesney before becoming an established recording artist in 2015 with his breakthrough debut release, “Traveller.”

Stapleton easily veers from Southern rockers to intense blues tunes to outlaw country. Adventurous artists like Stapleton aren’t often embraced.

“There seems to be two kinds of music,” Stuart said. “There’s assembly line music or heart and soul music. Assembly line music seems to be the one that fills up arenas and stadiums. Go figure.”

Stapleton, Stuart and Stone can be filed under heart and soul music. Stuart is the elder statesman of the tour but don’t expect the Mississippi native to rest on his laurels. “A psychobilly’s work is never done,” Stuart cracked. “There’s always one more song to write, and I’m looking for it.”