“The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories.” Muriel Ruykeser

“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” Flannery O’Connor

The area of Southern Illinois — at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers — is a land full of stories. There are the river towns, such as Cairo, Grand Tower and Chester and mining towns like — well, most of them, at one time or another.

One such small town is Murphysboro, a former mining and railroad town that had a lot going for it in the early 20th century. Eventually, “progress” took it’s toll. Still a proud town with lots to show, like many other rural towns, it has many struggles.

As a child growing up in Murphysboro, Brent Stewart always listened to its stories. Whether they were told by the colorful members of his very large family or in the community at large, there was always plenty to absorb.

The first music Brent owned as a kid were cassettes by Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. When he was twelve, he bought his first Bob Dylan album. That’s when things changed. The stories Brent had absorbed all his life started coming out in songs. He’s been writing and performing his own material ever since.

Brent began playing his first shows alone with acoustic guitar and harmonica at 15. At 16, he recorded his first album, a cassette-only release. At 17, he formed his first band, The Sympathizers, with whom he recorded four out of print records, the best of which is featured on a recently released compilation, Songs You Never Heard.

Professionally, Brent is also a journalist and writer, but those vocations are really just other ways to tell stories. But he has never strayed too far from his songs. Songs that tell the stories of struggle, of joy, of the realities of Midwestern life.

Now living in St. Louis, he’s still writing and performing his original music regularly. In 2017 he released two new albums, The Restlessness, recorded with The Sympathizers and Haze, an acoustic album recorded with guitarist Daniel Tejada. In 2018 they released the country and bluegrass-influenced, Home to Roam. Here’s to the Now, a return to full-band singer-songwriter rock, was released in August 2019.

Brent regularly performs in a wide variety of music venues in a variety of configurations — solo, duo, trio or full band, acoustic or electric. For booking inquires or more information, email: bstewmusic@gmail.com