Swallow Hill Music and Twist & Shout present an acoustic evening with legendary Scottish folk-rocker Al Stewart on Friday, December 18, 8 p.m. at the L2 Arts & Culture Center. Escaping the harsh confines of public school at the age of 16, Scotland native Al Stewart decided his path was to be that of a musician. Having purchased his first guitar from Andy Summers (The Police), Stewart started his musical career playing in various bands (one in particular with famed disc jockey Tony Blackburn), but after being introduced to Bob Dylan he decided to focus his attention on being a lyricist as well. In 1965, he moved to London where he landed a job as emcee at the legendary folk club Les Cousines in Soho. During this time, he started writing and performing at the club as well as introducing to the stage artists the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Bert Jansch, John Renbourne, and Ralph McTell. Surpassing his duties as emcee at Les Cousines, he started performing at Bunjies and the Troubadour in London. He then moved on to perform at folk clubs and colleges throughout England with the likes of The Incredible String Band, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Roy Harper. Stewart”s first album, Bedsitter Images, was released in 1967, followed by Love Chronicles in 1969, Zero She Flies in 1970 and Orange in 1972. Many of these early songs were pages ripped from a diary of love affairs, Proust-like in detail and startling for their unabashed exposure of intimacies. If it wasn”t the length of “Love Chronicles” (19 minutes) that kept it from the BBC airwaves, then certainly the explicit lyrics did the trick. Musicians featured on these albums included Jimmy Page, Rick Wakeman, Richard Thompson, Phil Collins, Queen”s Roger Taylor and Brinsley Schwartz. Then came a crucial shifting of gears: Stewart decided to write about any and everything but himself. He began incorporating historical data and elements of film, literature and current affairs into his lyrics. Past, Present and Future, his first U.S. release, was the first record Stewart made using this approach. It became a cult album that has now sold close to a million copies worldwide. His next album, Modern Times, cracked the U.S. Top 40 Album chart that led to a successful U.S. tour. Year of the Cat, released in 1976, became his first platinum album in the U.S. It featured two Top 20 singles, “Year of the Cat” and “On the Boarder.” Buoyed by this success, he moved to Los Angeles and released Time Passages (1978) that also went platinum and featured the singles “Time Passages” and “Song On The Radio.” This period was followed by worldwide tours with his band, Shot In The Dark. The “90s brought a return to Stewart”s folksier roots with a UK solo tour (his first in 15 years). He enjoyed the freedom of performing the songs acoustically and, on his return to the United States, recruited long-time musician and songwriting partner Peter White to perform a series of shows in both the U.S. and Japan. It was during these shows that the album, Rhymes in Rooms, was recorded. It features some of his most well known songs performed in an intimate live setting. Its follow up in 1993, Famous Last Words, is an album of original songs incorporating acoustic instrumentation with traditional folk and classical styles. His latest album, Sparks of Ancient Light, was released in the U.S. in September of 2008 by Appleseed. With a dozen new vignettes of history and mystery elegantly intertwined by the timeless master of musical storytelling, it spans at least 2500 years of history in its tales of exotic locations and situations. Tickets are now on sale at www.swallowhillmusic.org (now with no processing fees) or by calling (303) 777-1003 x2. Discounts are available for Swallow Hill members.

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