In 1979, folk singer Al Stewart’s multimillion-selling hits “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages” were radio staples. Stewart, an acoustic guitarist, was touring with a full band at the time. He felt out of place.
“I don’t think I ever knew how to be in front of a band,” Stewart said in a recent news release. “I always felt like I was loitering while they were doing all the work.”
Fast-forward 32 years: Stewart is going back to his roots, performing with acoustic guitars and vocals alongside his longtime accompanist, Dave Nachmanoff of Davis. The intimate set-up is perfect for Stewart’s intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics dealing with cultural and historical events.
Stewart and Nachmanoff will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, 1010 Ulatis Drive in Vacaville. Tickets $39, are available at the box office between noon and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and one hour before the show. Call (707) 469-4013 or visit http://www.vpat.net.
“The tour’s been great so far,” Nachmanoff said during a phone call from New York. “The shows have gone well. We’ll be in Pennsylvania tomorrow.”
“Al and I don’t always use a set list,” Nachmanoff revealed. “We play pretty much what Al wants to play on any given night, or whatever I can goad him into playing,” he laughed. “We generally play ‘Year of the Cat.’ For a dozen years he wouldn’t play ‘Time Passages,’ but we’ll do that some nights.”
Other nights they don’t even play the hits. “If we play for a hard-core audience, they don’t mind; they want to hear the deep cuts.”
“I do encourage Al to do some stuff from ‘Uncorked’ because it’s nice to sell the record. But he doesn’t think in those terms. He’s an artist with a capital A.”
“Uncorked,” Stewart’s 2009 album, revisited songs from his massive catalogue. Stewart and Nachmanoff recorded the songs live on the East Coast. “Uncorked” is the first live acoustic album Stewart has recorded since 1992’s “Rhymes in Rooms.” They decided not to replicate any of those album tracks, even if it meant leaving off the standards.
Nachmanoff is a gifted singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist in his own right, with eight solo albums under his belt. His last album was 2006’s “Time Before the Fall.” Between family, touring and custom song’writing, he hasn’t had the time or resources to work on a new album. Until now, that is.
Nachmanoff is undertaking a brand-new venture with http://www.kickstarter.com. A Kickstarter campaign works similar to a public radio fund drive. Friends, family and fans donate money to fund Nachmanoff’s new album. He has 30 days to reach his $10,000 goal.
“We launched it in the middle of the tour,” he said. “The next morning, we were 50 percent there. In three days we reached the goal!
“It showed me that all these years of touring and building community in different parts of the world has come to fruition. Last checked, 160 people have donated. I know three-quarters of those personally. I don’t even think my family has backed it yet,” he laughed. “Not that they won’t; they’ve been supportive all my life.”
Incentives for pledging include advance album copies and digital downloads, personalized songs played on YouTube and house concerts.
“I’ve been holding off on the new record because I didn’t want to do it quickly and cheaply. I needed to wait until the time was right,” Nachmanoff said. “With Kickstarter, I realized this could work.”
And if he didn’t reach the goal?
“We would get nothing. They don’t take the money unless the goal is reached.”
Was he apprehensive? “Yeah, I thought it could be a complete failure or a success. I hoped for the best. As a musician, I’m an optimist. I’m also a realist; 90 percent is hard work, a little bit is luck and talent.”
Even though the goal has been reached, Nachmanoff could use more help. If you’d like to donate, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/davenach/crowdfunding-for-dave-nachmanoffs-new-cd.
Between raising a family, touring, custom songwriting and recording, Nachmanoff still finds time to give back to the community. Leading up to the Vacaville show, he’ll be the artist in residence at Pioneer Elementary School in South Davis.
“It’s my 11th time back there,” he said. “I love the teachers and the kids. They teach me what they’re learning and I explain songwriting. I help them construct a song. It really is their song — they write the words, incorporating the curriculum, and they come up with a melody and sing.”
Nachmanoff encourages everyone coming Saturday night to arrive early: “The Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre is having a wine and food reception with me and Al before the gig.”
Even if you’ve seen them in concert before, chances are this show will be completely different. “We never play the same show twice,” he promised. “It’s going to be a fun show.”
— Reach Landon Christensen at [email protected]