Cousin Kenny Vaughn and Marty Stuart of Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives perform at Ryman Auditorium on June 08, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Marty Stuart Reflects on 20 Years of His 'Pirate Ship Show' Late Night Jam

As CMA Fest celebrates a milestone 50th anniversary, country legend Marty Stuart is celebrating a monumental anniversary of his own. The Country Music Hall of Famer will celebrate 20 years of his annual Late Night Jam on Wednesday, June 7, at the Ryman Auditorium.

For two decades, the event has served as the unofficial kickoff to CMA Fest, which takes place across downtown Nashville from June 8-11.

Stuart says the show came about once he realized it was time for him to create his own space within the event. Naturally, he came home to the Mother Church of Country Music.

"The first time I played CMA Fan Fest, it was still called Fan Fair. ... So I was a part of it for all those years," Stuart tells Wide Open Country. "I left people's bands I was in and put out my own records. We were doing fine, and when I changed record labels after all those years, I said, 'Where can we play this year?' They said, 'Well, all the main stages are taken. You can have a slot at the [riverfront] stage.' I went, 'I don't think so.' I said, 'I think I remember another way to do this.' We rented the Ryman and started our own show called Late Night Jam. At that time, it started at 10 o'clock at night when the CMT Awards let out and people would just come across the street. It was a pirate ship show then, and it's a pirate ship show now. I love the show because we always give the money away. The second thing is, you never know who you're going to see. You'll see things there you'll never see anywhere else."

In addition to a lineup of Stuart's peers, the show has also become a platform for rising country artists. This year, in addition to Connie Smith, the Del McCoury Band, Gary Mule Deer, and Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Chapel Hart, Jake Worthington and Sierra Ferrell will take the stage.

READ MORE: Marty Stuart on Opry Memories, Minnie Pearl Wisdom and High-Flying Cosmic Country Album 'Altitude' [Interview]