“I believe in the youngsters,” Marty Stuart, the singer, songwriter and organizer of Wednesday night's 12th-annual "Late Night Jam," told Billboard.biz. “I was thinking back over the guest list today, and it’s kind of staggering to think I had this idea to do this show and 12 years later it reads like a who’s who.”
Stuart was an early supporter of acts like Keith Urban, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, all of whom were invited to perform on the jam, which supports the NARAS program MusiCares, an organization that provides money to music industry members who find themselves in need.
“That’s the most important thing,” Stuart emphasized. “I love the money we’ve been able to give back to that organization.”
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys, who have been on the show several times, said they came out to support Stuart. “We love Marty, and when he invited us it was an automatic yes. And this is CMA week, so everyone is geared up to be out late and do lots of stuff.”
Publishing veteran David Conrad was hanging out backstage with Tony Brown. Conrad has worked with the Stuart and commented that the event is in keeping with the singer’s approach to country music and his position as supreme historian and ambassador of the old and new in country music.
“It is his mission in life to connect the new artists with the veteran entertainers and have one rub off on the other one, which is exactly what happened with him and Lester (Flatt) and Earl (Scruggs),” Conrad noted.
One of the cool things about this jam is that industry veterans like Conrad and Brown, as well as singers, just come to hang out backstage. This year was no exception, with Jim Ed Brown and the Chuck Wagon Gang seen offstage watching the performances.
The Mavericks rocked the house, honoring clothes designer Manuel, whose birthday was Wednesday. New Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Bare did as Stuart requested and sang the songs that got him into the Hall of Fame, including “Detroit City” and “Marie Laveau.”
The Oak Ridge Boys, Connie Smith, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Mo Pitney and Jamey Johnson were all onstage at one time or another. Stuart asked the Oaks to reprise their performance of “Farther Along,” which they sang at George Jones’ funeral, as a tribute to the music legend. Then Johnson asked the group to perform “Amazing Grace” with him, to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.”
The show raised over $16,000 for MusiCares this year, bringing the total donation to them of more than $200,000 over 12 years of shows. MusiCares presented Stuart with a plaque thanking him for his support of the program.