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Al Stewart, Newberry Opera House: 4 March 2010   5 comments

Posted at 2:14 am in entertainment,events,out-of-area

OK, indulge me on this one!

Al Stewart's 1976 Year of The Cat, is one of the best albums of the 1970s. It's not always the case that very popular albums are good, and it's even less often that very good albums are popular, but in this case, Year of the Cat was definitely both. Stewart seems to have always thought of himself as more of a "folkie" than a rock star, so pairing him with producer Alan Parsons was something of a stretch, but in retrospect, it seems impossible to imagine anything else.

There's not really a weak song on the album, and "Year of the Cat", classic though it is, isn't even the best track, an honor won by the haunting "Flying Sorcery". I used to play "If it Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It", as an audio argument against a particularly ill-starred project which was stomping us into the ground, and as I get older "On the Border" with its

In the village where I grew up, nothing seems the same, though you never see the change from day to day..

lyric seems more and more apt.

So anyway, I was very happy to see that Stewart was coming to Newberry last week. The Opera House is very easy to find from I-26, and seems to be run entirely by pleasant, retired women. It's quite a small venue, and Stewart brought only one other person on stage with him, guitar player (and Phd..) Dave Nachmanoff. Now, why Al Stewart, with one of the best known albums of the rock era is playing small town South Carolina with a one man band, I can't say. I'd like to think that it's because he's really more into the "folk" thing than the over-the-top "rock tour" thing, but you sometimes hear about how famous people were locked into bad record contracts, had expensive divorces or crooked managers, so who knows. The key thing is that he was in good voice and seemed happy to be in Newberry. The set list was pretty eclectic, and while he did hit a number of "Year of the Cat" tracks, he opted out of most of his other radio hits, so I heard a good number of songs that were new to me.

Afterwards both Stewart and Nachmanoff sat in the lobby chatting and signing autographs. It was quite an enjoyable and low key evening, and I could still hear the next day, and my sinuses weren't clogged up with smoke..

Written by ted on March 11th, 2010

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5 Responses to 'Al Stewart, Newberry Opera House: 4 March 2010'

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  1. I felt bad for Al that there were no responses after being posted for a week. I enjoyed his top 40 songs on the radio in the '70s, especially Time Passages. Casey Kasem always had nice things to say about him. Ted, was the concert worth $30?

    Terry

    13 Mar 10 at 5:20 am

  2. Well, I ate at Za's the other day, and with pizza, an appetizer and tip, that was $21, so yeah, I thought $30 was fine...

    ted

    13 Mar 10 at 1:49 pm

  3. Don't feel too bad for old Al, he's following his bliss by making a living at music, and has a large audience well over 30 years later, all based on his "Year Of The Cat," which I always liked, especially the reference to patchouli. And playing the Newberry Opera House isn't exactly a sign of going down hill, quite the contrary, it's considered a must-play venue by all kinds of acts. I wouldn't call it a road-house gig, that's for sure. If only Columbia could be so lucky to have such a stage.

    You might not think it on first sight, but from the things I've read and heard from the musicians who have played this gig, there seems to be some kind of "good vibe" type of thing going on. Many performers actually relish the intimate atmosphere in some very old building that was designed for the performing arts. There are venues like this all over the country, and musicians really enjoy these gigs on old stages with all the ghosts of past performers.

    Michael Taylor

    13 Mar 10 at 7:15 pm

  4. Yea, I've seen REK there several times. Great venue...The Imperial Theatre in Augusta is similar. I hope the Township can bring in some good acts. I'm tired of going out of town for shows!

    Jonathan

    15 Mar 10 at 9:31 am

  5. I was at that show! That was the second time he'd been there, and he was great both times. In the last several months I've seen Earl Scruggs, Junior Brown and Al DiMeola there.

    Mike

    23 Sep 11 at 6:49 pm

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