Friday, February 8, 2008

Black rock on the Great White Way

Singer/songwriter Mark Stewart – a.k.a. Stew – had an L.A. rock band called The Negro Problem. Cool people seemed to dig it.

Now Stew has a musical on Broadway. It’s called “Passing Strange.” It begins previews tonight. I thank Rob Fields at Bold as Love for turning me on. (Rob has a podcast chat with Stew you can download.)

Keith Josef Adkins also blogs about “Passing Strange” today at

Wish I was in New York.

I talked about Stew in a blog post last September. Now lemme hit you with a track from his 2000 solo album, “Guest Host.” Click here to hear “Re-Hab”; it’s barbed and clever. (It also happens to be a perfect counterpoint to another singer’s more recent and famous song called “Rehab.”)

As for “Passing Strange,” four songs from the show (co-composed by Heidi Rodewald, Stew’s longtime collaborator) are available online as FREE MP3 downloads. Just follow this link, click the words “SEE/HEAR,” then choose “Audio.” Wah-laa!

I’m streaming the best of those tunes – “Come Down Now” – on my Vox blog. Click hear to listen.


Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

We saw this show when it came through Berkeley back in 2006. Obviously, it was still a work-in-progress at that point. I liked the music more than the play, although the two really are inseparable. This speaks more to my tastes than to Stew's abilities ... I didn't need a story. It was an interesting show, no doubt about that.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Good to know, Steven. My only concern, based on the music I've heard, is whether the songs -- over the course of an evening -- might be too twee (if that's the word).

Joe Crawford said...

UBM, I seriously doubt there'll be a problem with the tone. I've attended 5 Stew/TNP/TCP shows over the years (3 San Diego, 1 Silverlake, 1 Getty) and the one thing Stew can do is provide a context and an attitude, prior to, during, and after the songs. It kills me I have not been able to afford to attend either the Berkeley or NYC shows, or Stew and Heidi's residency at the Knitting Factory -- but the man could be a triple threat of comedian, performance artist, musician -- the whole package really is amazing -- and it sounds like he really is the fulcrum the show pivots on it. Take with the grain of salt that I've not seen the show, of course. :-\

Spike Lee appeared to have enjoyed it. Plus here's a New York Magazine review.

I've been a fan for years, obviously -- so of course I have a terrible bias. Additionally, full disclosure, I host the man's blog, something that I started hosting for him in 2003 and he updates completely at random over the years.

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

There's a variety of kinds of music in the show, at least when I saw it, which meant whenever things got too twee :-), there was always something coming up that shifted gears. This meant it was hard to imagine anyone liking all of the show's music, but also meant that no one would go away completely unimpressed.

Fay said...

I saw "Passing Strange" at the Public Theater in NY last year and it blew me away. I loved how the story of his life worked on stage - the writing, acting was top notch. I liked the music too but not as much as the story - that kept me riveted.

So glad the play was/is a success for Stew & Heidi. Go on Indie Artists!