By Vince Chiarelli
At 7 p.m., Sunday, June 15, people in the Rockford area will have a rare opportunity to see an iconic country artist perform solo in an intimate concert setting at the JustGoods Listening Room, 201 Seventh St.
After growing up in Nashville, Tenn., and playing professionally from age 15 on, Mark Stuart set his sights on being a recording/touring artist. Much of the time in the 1980s and 1990s, he fronted his own roots music band in the U.S. Southeast.
The rock, blues, country and folk mixture that poured from Stuart’s vocals/guitar/piano/songwriting defined him as being unusually versatile. At times, he took jobs as a guitarist for hire to get a respite from being a band leader, front man and self-booking agent. This is how he became visible to some as a guitar whiz, instead of the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist that he is.
Some periods, he toured with Texas legend Freddy Fender, or folk-rocker Steve Forbert. Then, there were stints with country rocker Steve Earle (prolific Nashville composer, producer and father of Justin Townes Earl; Steve became Mark’s brother in-law).
While being an opening act (with wife, Stacey Earle, with whom he has often done duo performances) for folk icon Joan Baez, Stuart so enamored the headliner that she would bring him onstage during her show to showcase his guitar work. This took place nightly on a two-month tour!
This year, Mark Stuart embarked on a solo tour. His performances are littered with great guitar pieces, self-penned songs from his solo records and duo records. Also, he does “tribute” songs to those notable artists he used to work for, and includes fascinating stories about the experiences along the way.
My friends Marques Morel and Kendra Swanson — the “Dirt Simple” duo from the Oregon, Ill., area — will play an opening set of their rowdy Americana original and traditional music. This promises to be a special night of high-energy and musical sill.
There is no admission charge for this special event. Both Mark and Dirt Simple will have CDs available for autographed sale.
Please contact Vince Chiarelli if you have any original Rockford music or radio suggestions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the June 11-17, 2014, issue