Latest releases “Crossing Across” and “Across a Universe” were created in the aftermath of personal loss. My brother shuffled off this mortal coil quickly and unexpectedly in the summer of 2018, leaving family and friends reeling in shock as such losses do. His daughter, my niece, had already established a well-planned timeline and locale for a wedding with her betrothed, and without Dad available in corporal form, I felt compelled to make some music for the occasion in a style that he might have liked.
The first version of “Across a Universe” was produced specifically for the wedding reception, and had lyrics that reflected both the difficulty and joy of the circumstances. It was played publicly that evening for Shawna and Joe S., (although few heard it), and therefore its official publish date, according to a long-standing technicality of copyright law, reflects that: Oct. 20, 2018. The second version (made for wider distribution) had some minor lyric changes and significant additional instrumentation.
“Crossing Across” was produced on the same basic musical platform, but was freed up from lyric constraints, allowing for more emotional expression. (Publish date of record: Feb. 7, 2019) “Crossing Across” is dedicated in loving memory to Gale Albert Steward, a.k.a. ham radio's K3ND, a Zeppelin and Floyd fan, lefty bass player and devout 4-speaker audiophile. In that SPIRIT, both of these pieces are meant to be played LOUD.
Some early reviews of "Crossing Across" included: “I really like it! In the beginning of the song, what are you playing the melody on? [Flugelhorn] OMG, I thought it was a fugal horn or a mellaphone; how awesome!!!” P.D.S.
“THAT IS FANTASTIC.” J.S.
“Whoa. Felt this in my chest. ... The beginning was Procol Haramish; then Stewardish with tinges of E.L.O.; then pure SHS guitar. Not exactly like early Pink Floyd, maybe hints to my fav '70s PF; more toward SHSteward leanings that way ... only as a description of the sound. Not copying it by *any* means. Then, what comes next, the only way I can describe it is, pure Gale Experience (as in, Jimi Hendrix Experience,... as in, possible musical choreographs of Gale's own Experience Crossing). Can't describe it any other way, Bro. Made me smile. Will find a way to buy/download this to play in the Jeep.” D.B.
(Thanks. You guys keep us going. ~SHS)
"Wakan" is a 5-minute 20-second indie rocker employing various American Native instruments (and also those indigenous to other countries) not traditionally but in a rock setting with guitar, bass, drums and musical saw. Wakan (pronounced wah-kahn) honors that Lakota word for sacred, spiritually big and powerful. Part of the bigger 'Wakan Tanka', which is usually translated to ‘The Great Spirit’, but an alternate is sometimes offered: The Great Mystery. Closer.
This is the SE single version, a remake of the R,D,W album cut. Cameo appearance by bass singer Big Lurch Hooper. Instrumentation includes musical saw by specialist Mr. E. S. Carpenter, and native flute by the versatile Dawn Busz-Rider. Sings-Two-Bears handled native drums, rattles, heavy tomtoms, etc., (and obviously had a pretty great time doing it all; he and the studio had been collecting these for years, and he managed to use every one somewhere in the production at least once!) Multiple basses, but the main bass used was a Coral Jazz 5-fret , a.k.a. ‘SSLIDER’ [the first prototype] with 5 frets, otherwise fretless, designed, built and played by the Director.
Few Words from the Bass Commander...[very few*]
“Postwar Jump” and “March No More” were released in April 2018. Full-song players here and on Soundcloud; downloads available on the STEWARDS ECLECTRIC home pages on CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes and elsewhere, streaming wherever. We consider these a mated pair, in some hybrid JAZZ genre. (We'll let others figure that out.)
"Postwar Jump" is a quick (2 minutes, 14 seconds!) modern /‘40s jazz number paying homage to the horn arrangements of the vintage Big Bands, while possibly furthering the contemporary philosophy. The piece is described by percussionist and in-house self-appointed name-giver Sings Two Bears as: 'Trombone Lefty with Dook Ellingtun and The Steward on Precision bass .'
"March No More" is nearly 6 minutes of 'roughly-charted' funk/jazz/rock studio jam, and has been described as: 'Herby Handcock Meets Blud, Swet & Phish' . Heroes are where you find them - and come in all shapes and sizes, ages and genders, colors and nationalities. Therefore, "March No More" is dedicated to: James V. Forrestal, Milton William Cooper, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Maria Orsic, Danal Meza, Ghost Army (23rd Hqtr. Sp. Troops) and all others who have offered themselves unselfishly in service and who will, for whatever reason, march no more.
Composition, horn arrangements and that ‘eclectric’ '67 Fender bass action by Director Steward. * Both pieces are 99% instrumental - and those instrumentalists include Trombone Lefty, Toots Headstrong, and Lovecchio Armitage on brass, saxman Thaler N. Shorter, the lovely Dawn Busz-Rider on woodwinds, Billy Kelley on piano (March..."), and percussion by Ludwig Von Slingerland and Sings Two Bears.
Those FRACKIN' Songs...!
These country songs have been released as singles, for download only. Mastered by Capitol Records, Hollywood. They are available individually and also combined.
Guest vocalist Ernest J. Silverback gives a patina’d sterling performance as the old man who made the wrong decisions for all the right reasons in “Frackin’ Fool” (a.k.a “The Old Frackin’ Fool”), a cautionary tale ballad on a contemporary subject. (The description from Two Bears is: 'Mister Carpenter saw the Oak Ridge Boyz with Texx Ritter's Hay Baler.' ) Silverback was once quoted as saying, “Where I come from, you are your own grandpa.” Another time, when a phone interviewer asked what he thought of his newfound audience of younger folks, he replied, “Ya gotta love these kids – they’re all grandchildren to me. They seem to understand the connection between heart and head, between hand and Earth. When you do this, it affects that. They’ve learned that everything is connected. They digest the music of life with their ears – and take the energy forward." Then he added quietly, "They know we are ALL stewards of this place." (But so who is E. J. Silverback? See Q&A.)
Up-tempo “Frackin’ Hoedown”, (a.k.a “Another Frackin’ Hoedown”), brings The ECLECTRIC Music Players together for a barn thumping follow-up to the old man ballad. Under Steward’s direction, veteran instrumentalists Floren deKichen (fiddle) and Mr. E. S. Carpenter (musical saw) team up with new blood as well as old friends from Steve’s 2010 album, Ridin’, Drivin’, Wakan... Within the devilishly angelic ECLECTRIC CHORUS, the voices of Serena Ann Green Eagle and the lovely Floral Clustah are joined by recent standout inductees Li'l Maxie Ripnit on the high end, and the one and only Big Lurch Hooper on the bottom. Says Two Bears: 'Earl Skruggs' cousin and The Oak Ridge Boyz and Girlz all pissed in the barn.'
For strictly artistic reasons, we offer a combined edition, where the material is presented as it was originally written, produced, and was intended to be heard. The label is losing money on it, but a promise is a promise. “Frackin’ Fool Frackin’ Hoedown” is true to the author’s vision, and a good $ value. This is the 'Storyteller’s Special', and it works - the way it was supposed to. Running time about 8 1/2 minutes. The complete lyrics are currently available with the individual song titles on my CDBaby page.
It would appear that one or both of these songs have ruffled a few feathers: for example, see the entry on the Q & A page from 'Deereman66'.
Something like Blues
The solo performance of "Pennsy Train Blues" is unlike anything we've ever put out before. It was an impromptu ad lib studio creation by a very tired artist in the wee hours, a one-shot deal. With one microphone, a few lyrics and a white Hendrix Strat, it can be generally blamed on the 2 picture postcards of bluesman Elmore James' six-string guitar (with four strings) sent from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Recorded entirely as is in one pass, no editing, no overdubs. It is what it was. Consortium in-house wise-guy Sings Two Bears bet the director he didn't have the guts to publish it. He loses.
A toast to the great old bluesmen. Dedicated to the Pennsy RR, the Lehigh Valley RR, Milwaukee Road, NYCental, Erie Lackawanna, Amtrak and their excellent sleeping car attendants Kartoon Kioshi and the Lovely Grace, and especially to my SusieQ - Susan Joan with the yellow dress. [Album art in PHOTO/ART GALLERY]