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To quote Merle
Haggard, "(I Wear) My Own Kind Of Hat". And in a sea of cowboy hats,
California-born Jeffrey Scott Stewart wears his proudly and in his own style. And in fact,
you could easily say that he wears several hats, because he covers several styles.
Some predict that California is fated to one day fall into the Pacific Ocean, so having
grown up in Ventura, just north of Los Angeles, Stewart knows what living on the edge is
all about. He brings that kind of "edginess" to his unique blend of country, pop
and rock. Call it "Americana", call it what you
But even before he began his singing career in clubs such as the famed Palamino, near his home, Jeff was already writing songs. "I started writing when I was about six years old. Then Id make my own guitar from one of my grandfathers cigar boxes and some rubber bands, and start singing my new songs," says the singer/songwriter.
Before long, at nine years old, Jeff got a real guitar. Interestingly, it was an electric guitar, and he had no amplifier for some time. Eventually he did get an amplifier - and an acoustic guitar. And though he was later in high school band class he set himself apart even then, as the band director allowed him to work separately on his songs. He continued to listen to music as diverse as the songs he was creating. "Everything from America to ZZ Top" A late-blooming love for country music (just out of high school) eventually led to a move to Nashville. "I always enjoyed country music, I just started focusing on country music more after high school" In his college years in Southern California, his musical interests continued to expand . . . he listened to more hard rock, blues, folk, and reggae music . . . absorbing it all into his developing style.
After college, as a 'working stiff', Stewart would enjoy visiting the honky-tonks all around Southern California. He'd dance (he later became a dance instructor in fact, and is a dancer in the Alan Jackson video for "Small Town Southern Man"), enter talent shows (one such show resulted in a very brief appearance on MTV's "Real World" - the mother of all Reality Shows!) and he'd get up to sing with the bands when he had a chance. One night at a local honky-tonk when then-future Curb recording artists Boy Howdy [hugely successful songwriter Jeffrey Steele's early band] were playing, a few of Jeffs friends egged him on to sing with the popular regional band. "We did Dont Rock the Jukebox." It went over real well, and even the guys in Boy Howdy seemed impressed. "It was fun!", said Stewart. That only whetted his appetite more . . .
A few short months later Stewart was singing in L.A. area clubs like the Palamino and the Corral, following the path of such other West Coast-based country artists as Dwight Yoakam. An independent tape hed recorded garnered local airplay, and he also became an integral part of the songwriter scene known as The Western Beat. It was about that time when Stewart heard the call to Nashville.
"It seemed that everytime Id send a tape of my songs to the L.A.-based record companies theyd send me back a nice letter complimenting me on my songs but saying in effect that I needed to send it to their Nashville division. I wanted to be right in the midst of the country recording scene, so it seemed inevitable that I move here," says Jeff, who now calls Music City home.
Once in Nashville, Stewart hit the songwriter scene hard. By day, when he wasnt working the odd job, Jeff trod the pavement along Music Row, pitching his songs to any publisher who would listen. He landed a few with various independents, but actually held back in order to present "the whole package" to record companies "when the time is right". Then, night after night hed hang out in the smoky bars and restaurants that offered Writers Nights and Open Mikes. There he made friends with fellow writers and other country singers vying for that brass ring. Again, Jeffs seasoned baritone voice and songs like "When the Twister Touched Down and "Barkin with the Big Dogs" stood out enough to land him demo singing jobs.
Not only did his peers begin to take notice that here was someone unique to country music, but also taking notice were such industry movers and shakers as ASCAPs Chris DuBois, son of Aristas Tim DuBois.
"Jeff is bound to make an impact on the Nashville music community . . . "
Mike Roggers, who has hosted many songwriters nights over the years and who is Creative Director for "ALV Music", has seen and heard literally thousands of singer-songwriters. He has this to say about Jeff Stewart:
"Hes a hot performer and hot songwriter. If you get a chance, come see this kid."
And thats also what club owners are saying who have booked Jeff and his backing band, The Big Dogs. So far, they have played the Tennessee State Fair and showcased at several important Nashville night clubs, including 16th Avenue Cafe, Douglas Corner, the Bluebird Cafe, and Windows On the Cumberland.
"I enjoy performing. I move around and dance onstage, and really have a ball. And thats what I want the audience to feel when they hear my music."
Music Row Magazine critic Ron Young says:
"Jeff Stewart injects a
heavy dose of excitement, one of the elements long missing in the all-too-often staid
singer-songwriter scene. But if you really want to get properly exposed to his music, go
see Jeff and his ace band the Big Dogs. Theyll leave you howling at the moon."
Currently performing in support of his albums, including "Live Dogs", "Sweet Stuff" and "Honky-Tonk Opera", Jeff's albums are already getting airplay in Kentuckky, Tennessee, Alabama, Australia, and Germany. He now performs on guitar, tenor banjo, accordion, mandolin, fiddle, ukelele and harmonica.
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