Gary Stewart Tribute
Helen Neal – Journalist
Missy Fuller - Photographer
The Trap of Nashville, ACM Nite Club of the Year, was an Up-Town Honky Tonk the night of the Gary Stewart Tribute. They set the stage with good seating, a dance floor, good food, an active bar, good sound – then brought on the right music.
Nothing is more right for this situation than the music of Gary Stewart. His compelling voice - coupled with his heart-grabbing, gut-slamming songs - made him the “King of Honky Tonk” in the 1970s. Even Time magazine said it was so.
Sadly, the country hit-maker died this last December. On what would have been his 60th birthday, his friends and family traveled from Ft. Pierce, Fla., to Nashville. They joined some great musicians and a host of fans of Honky Tonkin’ music to honor a great artist lost – and great music remembered.
The Texas Honky Tonk All Star Band, Gary’s backing band, was there to support each artist, and to showcase their own super talents. They opened the show with “Working Man Blues,” featuring Tim Harris on the harmonica.
Rosie Flores. “The Rockabilly Filly,” emceed the evening. Well known on the Americana charts, Flores said that she’d always wanted to be “the female Gary Stewart.”
Her “In Some Room Above the Street” supported that statement. And she bolstered it with “female versions” of “Whiskey Trip” and “She’s (He’s) Acting Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles).”
Entertainment magazine once exclaimed, "Flores never forgets that she's a poet and a rocker with a pure country heart." On this night her “pure country heart” beat strongly.
Wade Hayes mounted the stage and stepped into Stewart’s music as if he’d been born to it. And he had been. Stewart’s music was a staple in his father’s band in Hayes’ growing up years. Early in the show, he delivered a well-received set of Stewart greats, including “She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles).” Hayes’ rendition is recorded on the Sony album, Tribute to Tradition. Later, he backed dad Don (just in from Oklahoma) on a convincing “Honky Tonkin.” This crowd agreed with “honky tonkin’ makes you feel fine.” Wade returned to the stage at the end of the show, joining the band to back Flores on several numbers and to close the show with “Flat Natural Born Good-Timin’ Man.”
Songwriter Wood Newton ably performed “She’s Got a Drinking Problem (and It’s me),” a tune he wrote for Stewart. Others paying tribute and entertaining the receptive crowd were: Radney Foster, Hal Ketcham,
Michael Peterson, and A-list songwriters Kim Williams and Randy Boudreaux.
Jay Orr, representing the Country Music Hall of Fame, revealed his personal response to Stewart. “Gary spoke to me through his music. You get hooked on Stewart. I was main lining Stewart in 1985.” He stated the Hall of Fame’s position, “I want you to know the Country Music Hall of fame knows and appreciates his music.”
Stewart’s taped performance of his poignant work, “A Touch of You,” was played. Misty eyes everywhere in the room acknowledged Stewart’s display of deep distress over loss. Though he wrote it years earlier, before losing his beloved Mary Lou after 43 years of marriage, it seemed to spring from recent grief. She preceded him in death by one month. It certainly reflected the sorrow of those in the room who deeply miss both of them.
Honky Tonk music is real-life music – its ups, its downs, its joys, its cold hard facts. Gary Stewart wrote it, played it, lived it. And left it for the rest of us to embrace.
The Texas All Star Honky Tonk Band
~ Glynn Fleming - lead guitar and band leader
~ Tim Harris - harmonica and various percussion instruments
~ Dick Dunn - drums
~ Dickie Taylor- piano
~ Wayne Milligan - bass, substituting for Curtis Randall
Gary Stewart Tribute Play List
The Band – Working Man Blues, Keep Your Hands to Yourself and Don’t Tell me No Lies, Invitation to the Blues, Starting Over Again, and Ten Years Of This
Rosie Flores – In Some Room Above the Street , Quits, Ain't Living Long Like This, She's(He’s) Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles), Whiskey Trip, Single Again, An Empty Glass
Wade Hayes – I See the Want To in Your Eyes, An Empty Glass, She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles), Flat Natural Born Good-Timin' Man
Don Hayes – Honky Tonkin
Wood Newton– She's Got A Drinking Problem
Kim Williams/Randy Boudreaux – Whiskey Trip
Radney Foster/Hal Ketcham – Drinkin' Thing
Radney Foster - Just Call Me Lonesome
Hal Ketcham – Out of Hand, Cactus and a Rose
Michael Peterson –Your Place Or Mine