‘Can’t Sit Still’: Jeff Stewart celebrates new CDWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I can’t wait for these people who are helping out and pre-ordering — they’re gonna get some cool stuff. And get the record. And that’s what I care about, that’s all I care about. I just want my friends to get the songs, and hear ‘em the way I hear ‘em.”
— “Jeff Stewart can’t sit still,”
Toledo Free Press, Sept. 26, 2013
It’s a year later, and the time has come. After a successful fundraiser on the website Kickstarter backed the production of Toledo musician Jeff Stewart’s long-gestating album “Can’t Sit Still,” the last obstacle facing its release was work. Long, long hours of work polishing the songs that had been waiting to be perfected for over eight years.
The donors who made the Kickstarter a success were the first to get a finished copy of the CD over the summer, naturally. Now, it’s time for the rest of Stewart’s expansive fan base to get their chance.
“When we did it, I was so apprehensive, and not really for it, necessarily,” Stewart said in a new interview with Toledo Free Press. “And then, to see the support that I got from it — I was kind of blown away. And then we got more than we figured, the amount, and I was thrilled. And then, we got it done. It’s that simple.”
To celebrate the album’s completion, Stewart is holding a CD release party on Oct. 12 at the Village Idiot in Maumee. The shindig is set to take place between 3-5 p.m. — at first glance, an early start time for a party honoring one of the most beloved figures in the Toledo music scene.
But Stewart said the timing was deliberate.
“I want it to be low-key. I wanted it to be during the day on a Sunday afternoon, low-key.
“I like the energy of The Village Idiot so much — it seems to be a universal place where people can come together and drop all pretensions, and just go have a good time.
“I wanted it also to be where musicians could attend. A lot of [us], obviously, were doing our thing on weekend nights or all throughout the week. So it made sense to me to do a low-key event on a Sunday where you can stop by, if you’re driving down the river, you can just pop in.”
The seeds of what would become “Can’t Sit Still” were first planted nearly a decade ago now.
In the aftermath of a painful divorce, Stewart plowed himself into his music, channeling the emotions into the creation of tunes that he has spent years trying to refine. He said that thanks to his Kickstarter backers, the spirit of the songs has never diminished throughout the process of bringing them to the new album.
“We didn’t have to short-change ourselves or anything. I didn’t have to cut any corners. I was able to do exactly what I wanted,” Stewart said. “Sometimes, you get done with a project and you’re like, ‘I wish I would have done that,’ or something. But you just have a feeling of completion with [the CD]. I can rest on that now.
“The vision was there, and we were going to finish no matter what. If it took another ten years, we were going to make the songs the way they needed to be.”
So, looking at the finished product, does Stewart see a piece that accurate captures who he is as an artist at this stage of his career? The result is mixture of both the past and the present, it seems.
“You’re not going to stay the same age, so you do evolve. Your emotions change, and then you move on from certain opinions you might have been about. But they’re still a part of your story. So you see now — you’re not exactly in that same frame of mind, but you go there, so you might tell that story. So you can kind of go there if you need to.”
The struggle to bring “Can’t Sit Still” to listeners has brought Stewart’s career full circle in many ways. Years of emotion, expressed through art, which only saw completion through the support of his friends and fans. And now those same individuals will finally get the chance to experience the piece as Stewart had always intended.
“The support is so amazing among all [my] other friends. We were all in the trenches together,” Stewart said. “I’m not the young pup anymore. The young pups are out there doing it. I’m kind of the — I’m grandfathered in.
“I had to make sure that I was standard-bearer,” he added. “I couldn’t put out something that was junk. I had to put out something that was top-notch, so I could give it to those musicians, and you know, they could listen to it and hopefully say, ‘You know, man, I want it to sound like this.’” O