It's All About The Music 

AL STEWART


Photo by Reed Wilson

AL STEWART CONCERT
CENTRALIA COLLEGE
CENTRALIA WASHINGTON
WINTER 2010



There is an American town which is situated between Seattle Washington and Portland Oregon almost midway, which of course is named Centralia. There are two and three story downtown buildings, which are made of the bricks fired in the local kilns over one hundred years ago, still standing strong thanks to a few real estate investors and an active historical society. What makes this little city stand out among other small towns in the area is not it’s old buildings and many antique shops but it’s cradled place of higher learning, Centralia College. Originally founded in 1925 and called Centralia Junior College, it has been the launch pad for many who have gone into their selected fields too many to mention here, but it is indeed the music department and the dedicated faculty here who have inspired  the students over the years to appreciate all genres of music .  And because of the opportunities  presented in the form of live concerts and musical productions in the beautiful Corbet Hall Theater, the students and the neighboring communities alike have greatly benefited. Our special thanks to Candy Lunke, Centralia College Events Coordinator for having made this  concert and my review possible.

This winter the students, faculty and many of the local music enthusiasts were treated to a rare small-town stopover by the world renowned musician and songwriter, Al Stewart, who is best known for his many chart topping songs such as “ The year Of The Cat “, “ On The Border “ and “ Time Passages “. Stewart, accompanied by guitar virtuoso and fellow recording artist Dave Nachmanoff opened their 2010 concert season with this appearance. And I must tell you it was a treat for this writer to be in nearly front and center seating to take it all in! As Dave and Al related to the crowd a few times, the acoustics and the richness of Corbet Hall made their job of performing for over two hours a real pleasure.


Two of Mr Stewart's previous album covers

Our concert began with Dave Nachmanoff, whom I will admit to have never heard of before that evening- absolutely tearing it up! Opening with and original Blues and Boogie tune, he grabbed our attention in the first measure with his thundering rhythms and animated facial expressions. Now mind you this man came out with one acoustic guitar amplified and wireless and he rocked the house! We were in his space within seconds and he held us captive for a couple more numbers when he announced the arrival of Mr. Stewart. By this time it was clearly evident that this was going to be like no other concert I’d ever been to, these men both with their acoustic guitars, no drums, no keys, no effects just incredible singing and guitar playing! Now I don’t mean mediocre “ let’s just get out there and go through the motions “, I’m talking HOT guitars on both their parts. Al Stewart is also a very fine musician besides the fact he writes the most amazing songs. I always knew that I liked his music for over three decades but I didn’t know what a proficient and skilled guitarist he was until now.

Al Stewart’s music is different than other singer songwriters in that his songs are not your typical boy meets girl, gets dumped and then “ I’m so blue because of you “ songs that balladeers love to clone and rehash probably because it’s the easy way out. It requires very little effort. Al Stewart told us that he loves history and the stories of great leaders and their significant others, that he at one time had considered writing a whole series on American Presidents and their wives. When you hear or read his lyrics like this excerpt from Rumours Of War, you are taken away in a cloud of reality meeting fantasy in a way which no others before have told such truth;

“There are souls on fire in the day and the night,
on the left and the right, in the black and the white,
you can see it burn in the eyes of the rich and the poor.
Rumours of War.
Rumours of War.”

Al Stewart also showed us another side of himself, often letting his guard down and being comfortable with the audience as though we had all come over to his house for a little of his favorite fine wine while he plays for us in his living room. He was talented, funny and also sharp! I couldn’t help but notice that Al looked like a man who may have just stepped away from and important board meeting, removing his jacket and tie to relax a while with his friends. And we felt like old friends because his music took us there, everywhere and anywhere he wanted us to go and we traveled as a group. No one was left behind. An that is in my opinion, the mark of a true entertainer for you see, there are musicians and there are story tellers but there are few who are both of these and also a great entertainer. There is a difference.

All in all this was one of the finest concerts I have been to my entire life. I say this with ease because there were a few elements that one would have to consider to qualify something so highly. For one, the content was rich and exciting, the music bold and romantic at times with lyrical content that just draws you inside the writer’s heads. The presentation was top shelf professional, meaning that the only messing around was intended and taken to involve us, the audience. Even tuning the guitars was done so discreetly with tuners clipped right onto the guitar headstocks while one or the other of the men expressed a little humorous quip toward the other just to keep each other smiling. The sound of these two acoustic guitars, both being played by masters were so full and melodic it was as if an entire symphony orchestra was right there on that Corbet Hall theater stage, even during the entire uncut rendition of “ The year Of The Cat “.What a great team that Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff make on stage and what incredible talents they are each in their own right. You don’t drink good wine from a paper cup, you serve it in a fine glass.






Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff (actually Dr. Nachmanoff, a college professor of Philosophy) have been friends for a long time and they have been producing and recording a significant amount of music together as of late. Their new CD entitled “ UNCORKED “ contains a smooth vintage of thirteen wonderful songs and you may order this fine collection directly from www.davenach.com. For a complete list of their upcoming concerts see http://www.alstewart.com/news/concerts.htm Also you can find more of Al Stewart at :
http://myspace.com/officialalstewart
Footnote to this story about Al Stewart;  

After the concert Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff were out in the lobby to meet and greet the fans, distribute a few CD's and sign a few autographs. The line was very long and these two artists showed us they really appreciated everyone by staying until the last person in line had their turn. Their demeanor was so relaxed and down-home it seemed like they were just a couple local guys hanging out with a few hundred good friends, rather than two worldly travelers who have sold millions of records. Just like the rest of the audience I have always been an Al Stewart fan, though I admit I went there to bring back a good story. ( I hope I haven't let anyone down ! ) The guys were super gentlemen who as artists gave this little town of kiln-fired bricks and accomplished scholars more than their moneys worth, but they will long be remembered for being kind human beings who with their hugs and handshakes came to town one winter night and gave their 110% and stayed behind until the last door on Corbet Hall was secured.
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Bruce J Maier

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