Singer/songwriter and British folk fixture Al Stewart spins his historic folk-rock tales at Edmonds Center for the Arts next Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Since tickets are limited, call the ECA box office at 425-275-9595 to inquire about availability. Ticket prices are $15-$30.
A California resident since the mid-’70s, Al Stewart was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1945 and moved with his family to Bournemouth, a seaside town in the south of England, at an early age. It was there that Stewart bought his first guitar – from future Police guitarist Andy Summers – and learned his first guitar licks from Robert Fripp, later the leader of King Crimson.
Leaving school at 16, he began his musical resume as a guitarist for various local bands, before exposure to Bob Dylan’s songs shifted his focus from instrumentalist to vocalist and lyricist. In 1965, Stewart moved to London, where he shared a flat with Paul Simon, and served as emcee at the famed Les Cousins folk club, fraternizing with rising young talents like Simon and Cat Stevens. He was soon writing and performing his own songs at Les Cousins and other folk clubs and colleges across England, opening shows for groups such as Fairport Convention and Pentangle.
Stewart’s album Modern Times cracked the U.S. Top 40 charts in 1975 and led to a full-length U.S. tour for Stewart and his band. With groundwork laid and touring dues paid, his next album exploded in America and elsewhere: Year of the Cat (1976) spun off two Top 20 hits (the indelible title song and “On the Border”) en route to becoming a million-selling release itself. Stewart’s next album, 1978’s Time Passages, repeated the success of its predecessor, selling a million copies and yielding the Top 10 title track and Top 30 single, “Song on the Radio.
In the past few years, Stewart’s 40-year musical output (18 original albums, plus best-ofs) has been the subject of a boxed set (the 5-CD Just Yesterday), a large-scale U.S. reissue to meet the demand for his back catalogue, and the reissue in paperback of his 2002 biography, “The True Life Adventures of a Folk Rock” by Neville Judd.