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Dave Stewert 

I performed for years on Boston's streets. 
In 1983 part of my band backed a woman singer, 
just  bass, drums, bkp vocals and my beautifully 
electronic sounding  electric mandolin, 
Some big dramatic moves I did occasionally.
We played in front of Filene's, Downtown Crossing, Boston.
Months later I got a job across the street at Strawberries Records 
and Tapes.
The assistant manager stood by the door looking out with me.
He said, "I used to see you out there. One time Dave Stewert 
of the Eurythmics was watching and I approached him and said 
I saw a recent Eurythmics'NYC show".
Dave said to Micheal,"That bloke's good", pointing to me.
Six or so months later I was watching the Grammies and The Eurythmicks 
lip-synched Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.
Dave was playing a string-less little cubist sculpture about the size
of my electric mandolin. He moved around. 
I marveled at his apparent imitation of me.

Roar of the crowd 

We started our second of four sets on a beautiful Summer eve, 
playing in front of Ann Taylor's Fasions.
I sang the first song and the crowd was already so big we had to back up.
We played that first song and the reaction from the crowd was unreal. 
So loud that it sounded like a jet engine and my ears popped in and out 
of total deafness. Long, LOUD applause. I was losing my balance.
So I sang the second song as well and the same reaction. We were 
telling them stop, but it went on.
The third song was sung by another band member and the applause was normal.
I will neve forget that night.

Huge Wave 

Our band, The Verbs, that often played on the street in Boston/Cambridge 
got a gig opening for Richie Haven at Nightstage.
Two shows and when it came for our second set, we were introduced by a woman
dressed entirely in black.
She said in a lifeless monotone," You know them, you love them, you've 
seen them on the street. Here they are..."
I was so embarrassed. I sang the first song blushing so much it was hard to see.
We got through that song and each song got respectable applause.
After several we went into Let's Stay Together by Al Green.
I alone sang it and took two electric mandolin solos.
At the end they applauded as usual, BUT a huge wave of applause came crashing down over it and it was real show biz applause. What a feeling.

Andy Kaufman and me 

     "Me and Andy Kaufman"  

I attended the now defunct Graham Junior College and studied radio and TV broadcasting.  

Muffler, a kid from my hometown, attended Graham as well. I ran into him after the holidays and he told me that I had to meet his new dorm roomie. I said I would visit.. Both our dorms were in Kenmore Sq.  

The next week I paid him a visit. Soon after I arrived, someone  walked into the room.  

"Bob, this is Andy. Andy, this is Bob from Northbridge".  

Suddenly this guy was right up in my face (he was a bit taller) and talked excitedly of his college station TV show. I told him about mine.  

His big blues were staring at me a few inches from my face.  

His name was Andy Kaufman.  

Oh, there's more....  

Me and Andy Kaufman II  

So, Andy Kaufman enlisted a fellow student, Al Paranello, to manage him. Al was in the same dorm as me and had heard me sing my originals. He approached me and asked if I would open for Andy every Friday night in our student union.  

So I agreed and the weeks saw me singing in front of a good crowd while Andy did his Transcendental meditation on a floor above before his set.  

His comedy knocked us for a loop, and had us literally on the floor laughing.  

I would run into him in Kenmore Sq. My girlfriend, Stephanie, would crack up as Andy got right in my face and talked about special one man shows he came up with and performed aside from our weekly performances.  

Mind you, he never heard my music. "Al Paranello says you're really good",  he would often say.  

Each week Andy and I would tape our school station TV shows having played the previous night. We would wait out in the hallway and watch Andy in his "Uncle Andy's Fun House" show. They always ran late and we would just have to wait.  

So, some  years later, I started seeing him on NBC. Saturday Night Live was where he did the same skits as he did in college.    

One night when I was off from playing in my band, Strings Attached, I ran into Andy in front of the Harvard Coop.  

I mentioned seeing him on TV.  

"Did you see me on SNL when I cried on Candice Bergen's shoulder", he asked.  

"No, Andy", I replied.  

He proceeded to do the entire skit in my face, crying on my shoulder at the end.  

Parting, he said, "Al Paranello said you're really good". 

My story and sound, Part 2 

My sound

So, I was laid off from a bookstore chain. I decided to get a Boston Street singing permit. Somehow I don't remember getting one, but at Park Street Station I saw this fellow singing "Please come to Boston". I invited my self to play along.
That summer a slew of people played behind me and Maurice, including now famous Nashville songwriter, Pat McLaughlin.
Eventually out there at Park Street Station some bluegrass musicians performed .  I joined them in what was to become Foxfire.
My style was not bluegrass, so eventually I got the heave ho.
I told the EX GF that I would form a better band, but she said I should beg to get back with them or quit music (her ex-husband was musical genius). My one year of switching to  mandolin did not impress her.
One day a woman with a violin case (turned out it was a 5 string viola) and I met on the street and I commenced talking and ended up scat singing a bebop tune as we walked. We decided to get together. I had met a guitarist.
So that was the birth of Strings Attached, the top band in the Boston acoustic scene.
During our early days I was visiting Bela Fleck, the now renowned banjoist. We would play Charlie Parker tunes.
Eventually, Bela was an occasional guest of Strings Attached. One of the three songs rehearsed with him was my chamber/jazz/folk instrumental, "Aurora".

Tears for Fearsssssssssss 

Back in the '80's, girls would come into the record store I worked at and would say, 

"Excuse me, Tearsssssssssss for Fearsssssssss." 

"Right here", I might say. 

"Oh, like... cassettesssssssssss..." 

"They're uptairssssssssssssss", I was known to say. 




Quiet songwriting method  

Tell yourself that you will write a song in the morning (when you are not busy. 

Wake up and make your coffee. Having that, grab your notebook, a pencil with eraser. 

Drink your coffee. 

No TV or computer on. 

Sit in silence.  

I find that after 10 minutes or so some words come to me.  

I write them down, but often suddenly I think of another theme and put brackets around those and write  3 or four lines for verse or chorus. 

Do not touch your instrument. Start tapping out a rhythm on your notebook with the pencil. And try whispering the words, spoken and find a cadence in them. 

Write (in parenthesis) the number of syllables next to each line of lyric and establish the general length of a line.  

When 3 or four lines get their cadence, then pick up your guitar. 

Your spouse, kids or house mates might be sleeping. 

By keeping it all inside and down to a whisper, there is an excitement created and the rest of the song can be finished. 

But be quiet.

Folk Expert 

For years I sold and reordered folk music records then CDs at Harvard Sq.’s Briggs and Briggs music. They referred to me as “Folk Expert”. We no doubt did our word play on that  (Tom Lehrer would listen in from the sheet music department. He came over and asked my name and what it was that I did. I said I wrote songs and had played some of his songs). 

I also played on the streets of Boston and Cambridge in my bands. Over 10 years we played for two million on the streets alone and the crowds we drew led us to bookings. 

And decades living at the legendary Old Joe Clark’s, where many an after folk concert party was held (right underneath my bed). 

Sometimes I’d be up in the morning and I’d share coffee I made with whoever had the concert. The guest room was tiny, but accommodating. We’d chat and later around lunch, they’d pop their heads in Briggs and Briggs and I would show them their albums and knew many catalog numbers by heart. 

All the while recording (at home since 1980). Many musicians visited and I would record them or with them. Sometimes I cooked dinner for them too. 

Those 23 years in that Cambridge house were amazing. Sandy Sheehan of Sandy’s Music and WUMB lived there!  

Every Thursday was a day off and I  would  write and record my originals. 

I lived music.

After my glory days 

After my glory days of playing on the streets of Boston and  Cambridge for 2 million people in ten years, not to mention the gigs we got when people saw the crowd around us, I would hang on my lunch hour with a street performer.  

I guess I was pushy, but he would not let me play along.I would say I could big out the mandolin, I would not need an amp for the voice and mando. Plenty loud enough, and this is when I still was in my prime, but between bands and working a fancy market doing everything: deliveries, catering, personal shopping, operations, banking, training….. 

All the while my mando wanted to get in there and play against his solid guitar playing. We saw each other a lot and it was heartbreaking that it did not lead to the magical way my bands sprung up from meetings on the sidewalks.

You know I love you 

"Today at work, my third customer was buying 14 oranges. I asked for her store card but as she searched for it I rang them in and they showed as full price until the card scanned.
This led to some very silly dialogue and she started kidding me about something.

I can't remember how I called her on it, but she replied, "Come on, you know I love you".

I stared at her smiling at me, beautiful, thirty something and well healed (tasteful).

I said, "Yeah, right. Run along now with your oranges. I have been handed quite a different platter".

Off she went with a glow.

It was a good hair day, I dunno."

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