Stewart to debut Mix Tape BluesWritten by Michael Punsalan | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Toledo music veteran Jeff Stewart is on stage, he’s doing more than performing; he’s looking directly at you.
”I watch the crowd and how all the different people interact, I apply it to my own life, and then figure out how to fit it into a song,” said the 36-year-old musician. ”This music is for people who can understand relationships, and how life can sometimes kick your ass.”
At 9 p.m. Nov. 26, Stewart’s debut solo CD, Mix Tape Blues, will be released during a performance at Diva restaurant, Downtown. Stewart has released records with two of his previous bands, the Flecks and the popular Toledo rock group the Starlings. Mix Tape Blues showcases Stewart’s smooth and suave blues/folk sound through well-crafted songwriting.
”It’s heart-on-my-sleeve music,” he said. ”We all go through the same emotions.”
The seven, all acoustic, original songs on the CD deal with the turmoil of failed relationships or the elation of newly discovered love.
The title track, ”Mix Tape Blues,” pays homage to the love songs of his past, forever linked with particular people or places.
”Sometimes when you hear songs on the radio, they can just crush you,” Stewart said. The chorus from ”Mix Tape Blues” alludes to iconic love lyrics from Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, the Wallflowers and the Starlings.
Stewart’s raspy and passionate vocals resemble Bono at the height of his U2 career, while many of his storytelling-style songs parallel Cat Stevens or Bob Dylan.
Mix Tape Blues represents a new degree of maturity for Stewart.
”Being in my 30s, I’ve been through the phases of trying to ‘be cool.’ That’s not what I’m trying to do anymore. I sing songs that I like to sing, and if people get it, they get it. Toledo’s a tough town to play in. You can go through a whole set and hear crickets chirp when you’re done, but then some nights are really great. It can be very humbling. You’re not going to ‘be cool’ [performing] in Toledo.”
Stewart is working on a 12-track album for release in late 2006.
”If you’re doing your job, you want to be the best at your job,” he said. ”You want to be the guy that people look up to for wisdom and grace. That’s important. I really want to make an impression on people. You just got to cherry pick one person at a time, you know? Break the rocks up and tackle it one rock at a time.”