Chris Stuart & Backcountry is one of those bands that when they take the stage it may be your first time hearing them. However after they perform you will probably be another in their growing fan base which is one of the reasons that are returning to perform at this weekends Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival.
We had the opportunity to speak with Chris prior to their return to the festival where there they will perform two sets at 1-1:50 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and then an evening set between 6–6:45 p.m..
Here are our questions:
Whom inspired you to pursue a career in music ?
CS: You mean, who’s fault is this? I blame myself but I’d have to say it was a high school English teacher who told me that I could write and should pursue writing songs.
Based on your albums and their individual titles would you say that your music is driven by Faith ?
CS: My father was a Disciples of Christ minister and that was heavy in my background, but I don’t write from a perspective of faith. I believe in gravity and grace. Good songs are right in the middle.
How did your current band come together which seems to span more the one generation ?
CS: Janet and I founded the band in 2002 and we’ve gone through several band members, but were happy that Er Uglum and his two stepsons, Christian Ward and Austin Ward joined with us. Christian is moving on to play with Sierra Hull, so we’ll have a great dobro player, Michael Witcher, playing with us this weekend.
You have a band of great musicians so what is it that makes each show different ?
CS: My constant attempts to elicit laughter from the audience. . .
You co-wrote “Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away” an IBMA Song of the Year which has been recorded by Danny Paisley. What is your connection with Danny other than the both of you are performing at this years Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival ?
CS: I met Danny at Del Valley a few years ago and he came to see another show of ours when we were touring in the area. He asked if I had any songs for him and I was lucky enough that he liked that one. He’s an incredible singer and stylist. When I heard him sing the song, I thought to myself, “Oh, THAT’S how it goes!”
This is a return appearance for you this weekend and your only East Coast performance this year, So what makes this festival so special?
CS: Del Valley is my favorite festival, period. Great people who believe that you don’t need a lot of bells andwhistles to have a successful festival. Just through great bands out on stage. How we figure into that, I’m not sure, but we’re lucky to be here.
Whom would you say is someone that your are a big fan of that would not fall into the bluegrass country category?
CS: I have two favorite songwriters: Stephen Foster and Jesse Winchester.
Chris Stuart & Backcountry have recorded and released six albums since 2002’s debut Angels of Mineral Springs. Chris is a first prize winner of Merlefest songwriting contest in bluegrass and gospel; nominated SPBGMA songwriter of the year 2005. Look for him this Saturday at the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival for their only East Coast performance this year. -Bob Rose