"The solo work I'm doing now is my best, and it is a serious party," says Stewart Brown, a veteran songwriter who's no stranger to Charleston's music scene. Now based in Atlanta, the singer/guitarist worked in Charleston during the 1980s with a variety of bar-rock party bands, including the Hollywood Squares and Child's Play.
These days, when he's not rubbing elbows with blues, soul, and rock cats in the Peach State, he collaborates with two longtime Charleston sidemen, bassist Wayne Mitchum and drummer John Etheridge. Grounded in Brown's soulful chops, they've performed and recorded under the names Cat Belly and the Stewart Brown Band.
"It's very soulful, beginning with the very rare chemistry between Wayne, John, and myself on my songs," says Brown. "You can pay a lot of money and get players on their best behavior, but our kind of musical voodoo doesn't go down without a lot of serious lowdown hoodoo, sweat-logic, and half-naked women with their hands up in the air. We have seen each other through a lot of real tough stuff that nobody should have to weather, and, when the water gets deep, and the flames get high, for well over 20 years, we have all three been right there like brothers."
The trio performs two sets at the West Ashley Home Team BBQ next week. Having performed on stages with the likes of The Drifters, Percy Sledge, The Spinners, Roger McGuinn, Mother's Finest, Ike Stubblefield, and others, any musical detour or flair-up is possible.
Brown and his bandmates recently completed two studio EPs titled Tin Pan Man (tracked with Mitchum and Etheridge at Charleston's Ocean Industries Studios) and Alligator Bites (recorded in Atlanta with drummer Kerry Denton and bassist Mark Hogan at Jeff Bakos Studios).
"I'm currently working on a 10-song soul record a la Wilson Picket entitled Bus Ride, and a classy R&B jazz Christmas album for Celeste Johnson, I'm pretty covered up," reports Brown. "The show at Home Team will be a cross of music from the two records Wayne, John, and I recorded in Charleston. These two most current offerings are strongly rooted in R&B and blues, but, push that all the way into psychedelic swamp music."