The last several years, a few country artists with ties to the Sacramento Valley have found national success in country music. Could longtime local performer Brodie Stewart be next to join artists like Tyler Rich, Devin Dawson and Jon Pardi as a local performer done well? If online reaction means anything then….maybe.
Stewart is a realist though, and he’d be the first to tell you that long-term national success, to paraphrase Tom Petty, is a long, long road. But, his career did recently get a nice boost with the online popularity of his latest release, a loud, proud, patriotic country rocker called “Born American”. The song is equal parts flag-waver and hell-raiser: it’s like if someone took Brantley Gilbert, Jason Aldean, Skynyrd and Lee Greenwood, tossed them all into a blender and hit “puree”. Helping it gain traction? a stirring, very well-produced video, much of which was shot at Miramar Marine Base and on board the USS Midway in San Diego. Since being posted on Facebook by country music news and gossip site Country Rebel, the video has gotten more than 190,000 views and has been shared nearly 2000 times. And throwing the whole project into 4-low is a guest appearance by country rapper Colt Ford. Ford, who wrote Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem”, has a strong alt-country following and lends the song, and Stewart, some valuable national country cred.
Stewart is well-known among followers of the Northern California country scene. KNCI fans may recall him opening Country in the Park in 2013 with a thunderously energetic set that caught early-arrivers off guard in the best possible way. He’s a country-rock lifer, equally comfortable onstage in some Sac Valley honky-tonk on a Friday night or in a bigger venue opening for artists like Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge or fellow Norcal native Jon Pardi. “Born American” is the title track from his independent debut album, which was co-produced by Adam Shoenfeld, who also gives the local guy national legitimacy: Shoenfeld is Tim McGraw’s lead guitarist and, according to Stewart, has played on 32 #1 singles for artists ranging from McGraw and Aldean to Keith Urban, Jake Owen, Big and Rich, and others.
Also, over Memorial Day weekend, 40% of the proceeds from the song go to a charity which Stewart says mentors the children of veterans who’ve died in service to the country.
Stewart grew up in the Bay Area but now calls Roseville home. He recently took time to answer a few questions about the popularity of Born American. The interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
KNCI: That video is top-shelf. How’d it come to be?
Stewart: Thanks so much man! It wasn’t actually easy; we had to get clearance from the Pentagon to be able to do any shooting on Miramar. We just really lucky (and) had a few friends really pushing for us to get this done and they helped make it happen.
KNCI: How did the song come to be?
Stewart: A friend of mine had already started writing the song and we finished it together. My album was almost finished but as soon as I heard the idea I knew I had to be a part of it. I’ve always been a huge supporter of our military and their family members and I knew this would be a great song to give back to them.
KNCI: How did Colt Ford get involved?
Stewart: A good friend of mine (who works in country radio) heard the song and we discussed it being a really great idea about getting Colt involved. We actually played it for him out on a golf course! Colt really liked the song and then I opened a show for him. We got together that night and discussed it and it all went forward from there. He wrote his verse on a 40-hour bus ride back to Nashville and jumped into the studio and recorded it immediately. (Then) my very good friend Adam Shoenfeld recorded and produced the song with me. It’s all been an amazing experience.
KNCI: Talk about the reaction the song and video have been getting.
Stewart: We released the video to Country Rebel and the numbers were pretty amazing (and) the positive feedback in the comments thread has been really great! I’ve had active duty, veterans, their families–even families of those who have fallen–reach out me, thanking me for doing this video. It’s an honor to have that kind of impact.
KNCI: Has there been any interest from national country music labels?
Stewart: Right now it’s an independent release. We haven’t really been shopping it; just working to build momentum with the song and we’ll go from there.
KNCI: You’re another local artist trying to break through. Are you inspired by guys like Pardi, Rich and Dawson? What keeps you going?
Stewart: Yes, of course. I think Devin is the only one we haven’t played shows with. It’s really great to see those guys having success. It’s a very tough business and can be an absolute grind! What keeps me going is every time we go out and play shows in front of folks and you keep hearing “don’t ever give up!” It really resonates in your heart. But it’s not always easy by any means. This song gives us the opportunity to give back, so it feels really good to pushing something out there that gets to give back to our true heroes.
KNCI: Where are you playing over the next month? Anything local?
Stewart: We have a couple somewhat local shows. You can find all our tour dates at brodiestewartband.com
KNCI: Tell us more about the charity you hope this song sheds some light on.
Stewart: We’ve teamed up with a great, veteran-owned watch company called Original Grain for Memorial Day. 40% of the song’s proceeds will benefit an organization called Act of Valor, which mentors the children of those who have fallen.
We wish Stewart the best of luck and commend him on thinking of our service men and women. Give the song a listen and make sure you crank it up–it’s meant to be played loud and proud.