3 Q’s with John Stewart

By Brett Leigh Dicks

J ohn Stewart, longtime member of the Kingston Trio, songwriter of the Monkee’s “Daydream Believer,” and accomplished solo star, comes this Saturday night to Trinity Backstage, on the grounds of the church at State and Micheltorena streets.

How does the president of the United States of America come to quote lyrics from a John Stewart song? It happened when Ronald Reagan gave the Medal of Freedom to Bobby Kennedy posthumously at the White House. I have always been a Democrat and to have a Republican president quote one of my songs was very surreal. Of course I was honored and pleased but, at the same time, a little puzzled too.

I believe you and Lindsey Buckingham share a mutual admiration society. Lindsey learned from Kingston Trio records. When I first heard the first album he did, Nick Reynolds from the Trio was over at my house, and I said to him, “He’s playing banjo parts!” And that’s where Lindsey learned to play electric guitar. I became a big fan of Lindsey’s guitar playing and he actually changed the way I played guitar. I was playing with a flat pick and after hearing him I then dropped the pick and started playing with my fingers, which opened a whole new vista to me. The popularity of folk music seems to ebb and flow among the general public. Why? The songs are everlasting. Folk is music that has been around for a hundred years and every now and then a Woody Guthrie comes along and the songs pick up again. Then, out of nowhere, Bruce Springsteen comes along and does a collection of songs that we did with the Kingston Trio. … And people take notice. Folk is like the blues: it’s roots music and it never goes away.

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