It's about time country music fans noticed the talent seething under the wide-brimmed cowboy hat of newcomer Brodie Stewart. He's been working his tail off for years as an independent artist trying to get his face, his name and his music out to the public one venue at a time. This time, he has a new music video picking up a bit of steam because of it's patriotic nature and, well, because it makes a statement.
Stewart has taken a different path to find his own way and his own voice in this business of music where the biggest criticism is everyone sounds the same. He has known from the very beginning that country music lovers don't just reside in and around Nashville, or Texas, for that matter. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and spending his summers in Red Bluff, Stewart indulged his love for four things — rodeo, listening to country music, singing and playing guitar.
It didn't take him long for his personal slant to take on a Southern rock flavor, form and front a band, before touring the country and opening up for bigger artists in sold-out arenas.
While working on his own tracks, Stewart also wrote and produced songs for a variety of other artists, such as “Sweet Isabel” recorded by Enrique Iglesias for his release entitled Insomniac. Shortly after that, Stewart also was signed to a song/production deal with Cherrytree/Interscope Records. He also signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music.
These days, he is focused on the Brodie Stewart Band's debut album Born American, which is in stores now. Stewart teamed up with guitarist/producer/songwriter Adam Shoenfeld (Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Jake Owen, Big and Rich, Florida Georgia Line and many more) to co-produce and play on the album along with several top players in Nashville.
On the "Born American" single and video, he teams up with country rapper Colt Ford. To promote the album, Stewart's high-octane show has been touring the West Coast, opening for top recording artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Frankie Ballard, Parmalee, Jon Pardi, Big & Rich, Josh Turner, Craig Campbell, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Brice, Thompson Square, Easton Corbin, Joe Nichols and Hank Williams Jr.
As part of his Red, White & Blue tour, Stewart includes two nights performing at the Tropicana Laughlin, Friday-Saturday, July 5-6.
We talked with Stewart about his career, his music and the show he brings to town. Here's his take…
People don't readily associate California with country music, considering the diversity.
I grew up in a little town called Walnut Creek, California, which was kind of a little suburb city of San Francisco, but you know I got a lot of my background and my country roots 'cause of my dad being born and raised up in Red Bluff, California, way up north. It's funny how people don't think California is country, but it's nothing but country up there. There are whole cities of rednecks there, and it's crazy.
But it's like they say, the biggest country markets are in California and New York, of all places, usually when it comes to radio.
So where did that love of country music come from?
For me, growing up as a kid, just going to the roundups and doing the rodeos, it was just a part of me and I tried to dabble in every kind of music I possibly could. Then my forte really just started to become more of a Southern rock thing. Then it was an easy transition to call it country or a rock band with a twang, or whatever it's become these days.
Describe your sound for somebody who doesn't know.
For me, I think always loving Lynyrd Skynyrd was part of my background. My mom was so into music, she'd play anything and everything when I was growing up, from R&B to rock, to bluegrass, to anything, you name it. It was just one of those things that I just got introduced to so many different artists and so many different kinds of music but getting into the Southern rock thing and then seeing your Jason Aldeans and your Brantley Gilberts, those types of artists — that's kind of more my vein, I would say. Those guys like to rock but I like to bring out a heartfelt ballad at the same time, so it's a good mixture, I think. I'm high energy, but not exactly like anybody else, I would say. But definitely the influences are there. I've always got a little of that Van Zant thing out…I don't know why, but that's cool if I can indulge that Skynyrd side of me. I love it.
Talk about the songwriting … is it like giving up one of your kids?
You know, ironically, the first song I gave up was like giving away one of my kids. It was tough. You'd never think that I'd have a guy by the name of Enrique Iglesias cut one of my songs, but it just came to be what I did. It was a hard decision 'cause I had written that song about a daughter I wanted to have one day, and then all of a sudden, here’s that daughter, she's 6 and her name's Isabel, so it was quite interesting to me. Ironically, his mom and sister’s names were Isabel, spelled the same way, which was a trip.
How did the songwriting come into play?
The songwriting was something that grew over time, I mean, I really enjoyed just being a front guy and then helping write lyrics or melody working in bands. As I was growing up and doing different things, the writing side of it was just natural. I think you either have it or you don't. Then you could always hone in on your craft and become better at it or you take your strengths and get in a room with one or two other people and you utilize everybody's strengths. That's kind of what seems to be what's going on today. You get these songwriters in a room and they're like machines and they just pop 'em out. But I don't know if that's been the greatest thing ever. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking anything away from anybody. I'm the first guy to say good for you, if you can make it in this crazy industry, because it's tough as nails. It is amazing for those who get that shot and get that chance, but I do feel like there's a lot that's just so much the same that's on the radio and I know it's 'cause people want to hear familiarity on the radio and so forth, I think I'm still in that lane, especially with this song, It's not like I'm completely in left field, you know. It's a good lane.
Where did "Born American" come from?
It was from a friend of mine. He came into my manager's office — my record was pretty much finished and in the can and he goes, "Hey, Brodie, man, I really want to play this idea I have for you." So we sat down with his acoustic and started strummin' out and he had most of the first verse and the chorus, pretty close to being dialed, and I came in and finished up the second verse and tweaked the chorus a little bit, came up with a bridge and it was done from there. It was crazy. It was a song when I heard it, I knew I wanted to be a part of it immediately. I was like, "Yeah, man, this is really good." And so I made room for it and threw it on there. Then from there, a good radio friend of mine introduced me to Colt Ford, we did a show together and I played my song for Colt and he really dug it.
I said, "I'd love to get you on this," — so true story — he finished up the show, I said thanks and sent him over an MP3 to his people without anything on the solo section — he put his words down on a 40-hour bus trip back to Nashville, and that following Monday, he was in the studio and cut it that quick. Boom — it was done. He sent it back over and it just worked. His words and what he had to say, I thought, were well said, and the nature of the song I think — it just seems to be working so far. So we're just pushing it, it was a song that was dedicated and written to our currently serving and our military veterans and their family members. I mean that's what this song is all about.
Sounds like this might be the thing to open some more doors for you.
We're hoping, but it's tough. I've done so much and you never know. It only takes one. Some songs are the slow cookers and then they burn and go, you know, and then they blow up. And some are overnight success crazy, oh-my-gosh viral. And now I can't be happier with the video, it came out fantastic, and I hope the message is clear, when it comes to why we did this and what this is. Most people have been like, "Thank you so much for this song," people hittin' me online, messaging me. I had someone who had lost her husband and she was just thanking me for putting the song out, in tears, watching the video. He had served and he was one of our fallen and it was just heartfelt to know at least it could hopefully touch people in that way.
Talk about this Red, White & Blue Tour you're bringing to the Tropicana.
It's high energy, you might want to go grab a shot or a drink. you know? It's good, solid music and show. We're high energy, but at the same time, we like to reel in the heartstrings where you can, and then get people up on their feet and dancing and having a good time. So that's kind of where it is — a high-energy, high-octane show with some candy in between. We're a five piece with me, so we will be ready to roll that way and we'll play as many of the songs as we can, we'll throw in some of our favorite covers, we'll do some jams and people will get to see some great guitar, and I got a really solid band, too, so it's fun. Laughlin will be an evening out with the "Brodeo" instead of the rodeo … I'm just kidding.
What's next for you?
I'm going to ride this out, probably 'til the end of the year with this single, and see what kind of love we receive. We started working it to radio, and nationwide, so we'll see what happens with that. But it has, so far, been getting really good feedback, which is good to hear. But, I'm still independent right now, which is fine. I'm just gonna keep pushin' it. At this point, it'd be nice to have a label's budget behind you, but sometimes that's just a bad bank loan anyway. It's a matter of finding the right fit, and for it making sense. Hopefully I can create enough buzz with this and moving forward to put out another song, or figure out something. I've just done music my whole life and I couldn't even imagine what else I would do. I'm gonna give it everything I have. It’s one of those things when you have people that come to your shows and they're the ones that really keep you going, they're like, "Don't you give up, you guys are too great, don't give up, you guys have it." There are frustrations at times, when you know you should definitely be at a certain level and you're not. It's just one of those things, you have to be patient and keep working hard.