Artist: Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart
Venue: The Gun Room @ The RMA Tavern
Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart at the Gun Room
Ragged suitcases in hand, squeezing through the side door of the Gun Room, which is intimate to say the least, Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart’s warm American twang fills the room as they mingle with the sold out crowd. Despite the April showers, a packed audience were in attendance as Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds (of The Men They Couldn’t Hang) commenced the proceedings with a collection of murder ballads and original songs from Naomi. The set was complemented by Paul’s euphonious guitar picking and doleful country backing-vocals. The pair performed new tune, ‘Bluebirds’ along with fan favourite, ‘Pair of Shoes’ amongst some traditional tales.
As Stacey and Mark take to the minute stage, “Fifty dates in fifty days” is announced with pride by an enthused Stacey. Now that’s dedication! Speaking of ‘Dedication’: the title of Stacey and Mark’s latest album, we were in store for an evening of ‘prime quality Americana’ (Maverick Magazine) brought forth by this new release.
Choice set opener, ‘Are You Ready’ eases the close-quarters crowd in with an almost jazz-like smoothness. Stacey’s percussive style of guitar provides a deep foundation for each song that is embellished by Mark’s mellow, yet catchy fills on his road-worn Gibson acoustic. Each song leaves the audience with a feeling of warmth as the married couple on stage, marry their musical styles and share an important bond that becomes even more prominent as their set moves on. This bond is emphasised as they recount memories of tour-dates gone by in ‘Little Rock’, where Stacey’s sweet-sounding vocals are complemented by Mark’s tenor voice and shimmering guitar resonance.
The intimate set becomes even more personal with Mark leaving the stage to allow Stacey to talk us through ‘The Flag’ whilst walking in and out of the congregation, making eye contact with audience members to show how personal this song is to her. Stacey and Mark ooze with pride of their heritage and create a sense of music coming from the heart that is often forgotten by many of the artists of today.
The concert draws to a close with the title track of Stacey and Mark’s latest album, ‘Dedication’ in a realisation of life on the road as a musician. The song details how life as a touring artist can also be hard, despite the buzz that passionate players like Stacey and Mark get from playing to audiences of all sizes.
It’s not hard to see how much music means to Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart. They had spent all of the previous two months touring Great Britain and Europe, yet they still found the time to talk to every single person at the door, as the assemblage slowly ambles out. Each living soul that exits the Gun Room, leaves with a Cheshire Cat-like smile plastered across their face, having thoroughly enjoyed two artists who hold music dear to their hearts.