Jeremy Stewart, one of the most prominent figures in the Prince George music scene, is set to release his latest solo album this weekend during two album launch shows he has booked at Artspace, the venue above Books and Company on Third Avenue, for September 22 and 23.
To make the album launch particularly special is Raghu Lokanathan’s return. Lokanathan and Stewart made up local group The Cottonweeds, wherein they played both traditional and self-penned songs for the better part of the last year. Lokanathan moved away earlier this month, forcing the group to break up, but will fly in so he can join Stewart and several others who make up the band The Rest for the two upcoming shows. He will be playing accordion as well as adding his vocal talent into the mix. Stewart said there is now way he couldn’t invite Lokanathan, who also performed on the album, to the show.
“He’s like a giant. He’s got powers,” Stewart said of Lokanathan’s vast musical talent.
Stewart will have seven additional musicians onstage with him for the show.
“It’s the heaviest band in town, in that altogether we weigh more than any other band,” he said.
Joining Stewart and Lokanathan will be joined by former band-mates of another one of Stewart’s prior bands The Lines We Drew, including siblings Erin Arding on bass and Justin Arding on drums. Dave Routley, also known as Downtown Dave for having played music in front of the Generator for years, will add additional vocals alongside Jessica Thompson. Other local musicians will also be thrown into the mix, including Jim Sayle on violin, and a keyboardist.
“I love playing with people,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s album launch is the latest of a long string of musical endeavors he has been a part of in the Prince George musical community during the last 11 years.
He began writing songs on guitar at the age of 11, during a time he said he wanted to be Kurt Cobain.
Elysium, the first group that Stewart was a part of, formed in 1996.
“We were a cheap knockoff of Nirvana,” Stewart said of the band that he now finds to be embarrassing. Luckily, he said, they never recorded their music.
They played at a now defunct venue called Spy Market, located in the basement of a building on the corner of Fourth Avenue and George Street.
Stewart moved on to play in bands that played a mix of classic rock and death metal, “which led to some interesting haircuts,” he said.
Those bands, and the ones following, broke up after short periods of time. Stewart found that other musicians, although talented, were not willing to devote their lives to their musical work, and had other priorities.
In order to meet his musical desires, and to spend more time doing what he wanted, Stewart dropped out of high school to move to Vancouver. He ended up working in the fast food industry.
“It turns out that’s not where it’s at,” Stewart now says. “I didn’t want to be broke and miserable for the rest of my life.”
He went on to upgrade his education at CNC, eventually becoming a English graduate student at UNBC, where he is currently studying.
During shows and in person Stewart tends to go on in great length about obscure poets, philosophers, or artists few have heard of. For many this can come across as pretentious.
What makes Stewart different from others is that he generally knows what he’s talking about. This certainly adds a unique spark to Stewart’s onstage presence.
“I can’t shut up and I’m extremely happy,” he said.
During the two album launch shows Stewart plans on playing some songs on acoustic guitar by himself, as well as having the electric band joining him for the majority of the show. They will play both cover songs, including one by Blind Willy Johnston, as well as a re-vamped song by The Cottonweeds, incorporating an early 50’s rock n’ roll beat that Stewart said has always interested him.
Naturally, they plan on devoting the majority of the show to Stewart’s latest solo effort.
Until the show Stewart can be found on the streets of Prince George and the halls of UNBC promoting the show, in hopes of packing the Artspace venue this weekend with local music fans.
The two shows start at 8 p.m., with tickets costing $10, or $15 for both nights. Tickets are available at both Meow Records on Brunswick Street and Books and Company.