After being named 2013 artist of the year by the entire city of Memphis, Mark Edgar Stuart sat back and considered his options. From the looks of things, he opted for all of it. Stuart headlines Saturday, May 31st, at Otherlands along with Holly Cole of the Memphis Dawls and enfant terrible Caroline Gamble, daughter of organ-drawbar honcho Al Gamble.
Stuart's last record revealed a John Prine/Townes Van Zandt sort of soul behind the bassist for just about everybody in town. He took to the acoustic guitar with Blues for Lou and moistened the eyes of anyone who ever loved a parent. Since then, he's combined his engine-room production skills with his keen ear for song craft into a knack for producing.
Madjack is Stuart's label and has released the records of Cory Branan, Lucero, and Susan Marshall. Stuart's band, the Pawtuckets, were also on Madjack, so he feels comfortable with the label as a place to develop his skills
As for what's next? "For now, baby steps." Take that with a grain of salt. Stuart has been busy recording his next record at Sun Studio.
Stuart once stopped a long string of bass gigs for a solo act. It worked out. A long-held habit went by the wayside on this new record: Stuart's tendency to work in the Americana vernacular went through a creative reconsideration too. He'd heard enough fiddles and pedal steel for a while, much to the chagrin of longtime collaborator John Whittemore.
"I opted for weird horns provided by Jim Spake, Clavinet, Mellotron and funeral-parlor organ courtesy of Al Gamble," Stuart says. "Whittemore is pissed."