Band: Stellar Stew
Members: Christopher Towson, bass; Jeffrey Hewitt, guitar; Robert Schuckle, keyboard; Steven Witmer, drums
Who we talked to: Hewitt, 40
How did you guys meet/ How long have you been performing together? It's been almost a year, but not quite. I was playing with Megan and The Wheelman ... and I was playing with Free Breakfast. I've always been into improvising. I was kind of giving up on that. An ex-girlfriend kind of introduced me to her new boyfriend ... and he played bass. He was playing in a Grateful Dead cover band, which sounded really good. We
basically put ads on Craigslist and found a drummer and then we found a keyboard player. The keyboard player was great. The drummer ended up not being so great. Then, I asked a friend of mine who I knew before (to play drums).
How did you come up with the name? We were called The Contact first, and we didn't really like that. But we were playing a couple gigs and we said, "we need to have something that people can call us." We spent, like, two weeks just coming up with all these names. We were on the floor rolling with half the names we came up with. Chris, the bass player, was like, "I think Stellar Stew would be cool." I was like, "OK. That works." We like to improvise. We like to come up with (songs) organically. When I think of a stew, how many different ways can you make a stew?
Do you play covers, original or both? That's always a debate between ... people in our band. A lot of times the cover thing comes up. I'm all about covers, but I don't want to be, like, coined as a Grateful Dead cover band. We are all real into music. We study music theory and we're just into improvising. We've played some Dead songs, but we definitely don't make it a habit. I think of it more like, "What would Miles Davis do?" We do a couple jazz standards, but we tend to stay away from those (as well).
What is your style? Something that I preach a lot is that we really need to dig down and really figure out what makes improv improv. (There are) different exercises we could do to be better at it. We're not even a year old yet. I absolutely love playing music, and I love playing with them. Robert, the keyboard player (is) incredible. It's all about connecting for me.
It seems like you're still a student of music? It's like putting something under a microscope and then kind of pulling back and kind of getting different perspectives on it.
What is one of your challenges as a band? This is our main fault: We're not, like, incredible singers. I think every band might face that issue. I even take vocal lessons, but I wouldn't consider myself an incredible singer. All of us have songs we've written and sing. If you're hearing someone and you're like, "I just don't like that person's voice." The next song, someone else will sing. We all harmonize, too. I just want things to be perfect. I'm into perfection. We're trying to figure out that whole thing right now, but I think what we're doing ... is really cool.
Where do you play in the area? We don't know what we're doing really. When we started, we just got really excited (so we decided) to play a couple gigs. We were pushing it for while (but) it's really hard to break into a music scene and ... actually feel like you're progressing and moving forward and connecting with the right people. We don't have a fan base, so it's kind of a catch 22. We have to play (a) venue for while for people to notice us. Right now, we're thinking that after these few gigs ... we're going to try to ... really dial in the songs and not be so concerned about playing out. Scott Eden at The Holy Hound loves us. He's a great guy (and) he has us play every month. So there's one place we can play in York.
You'll be playing two shows Saturday in York. We live for that. (Laughs) I'd play all day if I could. It's Free Breakfast and Stellar Stew at (Brews, Brats and Bands). This is cool because I haven't been playing with them in a while. It'll be fun because Pete (Richards) and Lindsey (Keeney) are great. I've played with a lot of different people ... and I know a lot of the musicians in York. It's amazing how many musicians are in York.
If you go
Stellar Stew will perform at Brews, Brats & Bands 2 p.m. Saturday at Sovereign Bank Stadium, 5 Brooks Robinson Way, York. General admission is $25. Designated driver tickets are $10. For details, visit www.brewsbratsandbands.com.
The band will perform later that night at 8 at Holy Hound Tap Room, 57 W. Market St., York. For details, visit www.holyhoundtaproom.
Stellar Stew: www.reverbnation.com/stellarstew
Read more meet-the-artist interviews: flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory