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Local musicians pay tribute to the genius of John Stewart at Stargazers

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Local musicians will pay tribute to the genius of John Stewart, seen here at right with his early band The Kingston Trio.
  • Local musicians will pay tribute to the genius of John Stewart, seen here at right with his early band The Kingston Trio.
Even if you don’t know singer-songwriter John Stewart by name, I guarantee you’ve heard his songs. On Saturday, Aug. 25, Stargazers Theatre pays tribute to the late artist with an impressive — and eclectic — display of local talent.

“Daydream Believers: A Tribute to John Stewart” (yes, he wrote “Daydream Believer” — as I said, you’ve heard his songs) will be something of an elaborate affair, with a format akin to a Grand Ole Opry show.

Featuring two sets divided by an intermission, the show will feature the majority of its showcased performers backed by a stage band — dubbed the Daydream Orchestra — including veteran local musicians Lewis Mock, Rob Wheeler, Steven Foster, Tom Gregor and Tom Schlapkohl.

The tribute also benefits from the assistance and blessings of Stewart’s wife, singer-songwriter Buffy Ford Stewart, and his former bass player Dave Batta, as well as Peter O’Brien, who was the editor and publisher of rock magazine Omaha Rainbow and a longtime champion of Stewart’s work.

Seasoned touring musician and songwriter Sean Anglum helped co-produce the event with Stargazers co-owner John Hooton, and describes the endeavor as a unique undertaking and a labor of love.
“Once John found an open weekend for the show — no easy feat at Stargazers — we contacted other artists in the region that we felt had relationships with Stewart’s music,” says Anglum. “Along the way, I learned of the wide range of musicians that love Stewart, and we’ve tried to get a good variety of performers on the bill.”

Indeed, Stewart’s status as a sort of “songwriter’s songwriter” and favorite of musicians is exemplified by a varied lineup that will include Anglum, The Mitguards, Phil Volan and Joleen Bell, Chuck Snow, Katey Sleeveless, Jim Young, Cindy Greene, The Custer Street Consortium and John and Cindy Hooton. Given that Stewart’s own career took him from Buddy Holly-esque garage rock to a significant stint in the prominent folk-revival act The Kingston Trio to folk-country-rock excursions in his prolific solo career, there’s plenty of material from which to draw.

Anglum feels that Stewart’s body of work reflects a singular ability to capture moments in time in the American experience and psyche, without an overt political tone. He’s also inspired by Stewart’s prolific work ethic, as evidenced by nearly four dozen solo albums.

“I think that Stewart’s incredible talent for bringing the everyday life of Americans to light in his songs drew me to his music,” Anglum says. “I was, initially, a fan of The Kingston Trio when I grew up, not really realizing John was in the trio. After he left and released the California Bloodlines album, I knew that this guy had a unique perspective and a sound I enjoyed. He was an important transitional element in American popular music who created a body of work that should not — cannot — be forgotten. And we hope everyone leaves with a smile.”

Send news, photos, and music to reverb@csindy.com

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