Song Of The Day 6/5/2014: Stew & Cast - "Amsterdam" (from "Passing Strange")


Broadway Off And On: I didn't know much about Passing Strange when I noticed its multiple Tony nominations in 2008, mainly because I'm almost 3,000 miles from New York and don't really follow Broadway theatre very closely, except for taking stock of the odd juggernaut that I would already have a predetermined interest in like The Producers or The Book of Mormon. But when I read more deeply about who was involved with Passing Strange and had collected the lion's share of its Tony nods my jaw hit the floor: My god, it's Stew! I was familiar with Mark Stewart's stuff mainly from his solo records which I played on my KAOS show -- "Re-hab" was a big favorite -- and also had fleeting acquaintance with his band The Negro Problem. From my perspective he was just this brilliant indie songwriter who seemed to be influenced by a bunch of stuff in my wheelhouse, whose albums were meekly delivered to the KAOS music director's office without much notice. And now, through some wormhole between L.A. and New York, he's arrived as the toast of Broadway? What have I been doing with my life?

It's one of the very few recent Broadway musicals I've seen, although not the live show, but Spike Lee's tremendous movie documentary of the show, which is also one of the best things Spike Lee's ever done. Passing Strange is the kind of show every musician probably dreams of bringing to life, a tightly woven autobiography about the atypical journey artists make if all the chips fall in their favor. Well, maybe not every musician dreams of it. But it's richly told, balanced neatly between self-respect and self-effacement, and you should really have a look at it. Of course there's a portion of the show that takes place in Europe, and "Amsterdam" describes it with more specific whimsicality than Rick Steves. Although probably the same amount of weed.


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