Stew and the Negro Problem to perform in L.A. for the first time in five years

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It’s with a little hesitation that we announce the following news, given that the first song on former L.A. band the Negro Problem’s debut album from 1997, ‘Post-Minstrel Syndrome,’ is a condemnation of The Times called ‘Birdcage.’ In the song, lead singer Mark ‘Stew’ Stewart cites us as one reason why he had to leave Los Angeles for Berlin: ‘It’s nice to know that Goldie Hawn has a tortured soul,’ sang Stew, ‘but what does Robert Hilburn know about rock and roll?/See why I had to run?’

But despite our everlasting allegiance to The Times’ former pop critic Hilburn -- who knows more than Stew will ever know about rock and roll -- time passes. And if, indeed, we were a prime reason why Stew left L.A., we’ll take a little bit of credit for what’s happened to him in the intervening years: most notably, the singer-songwriter created ‘Passing Strange,’ a Tony-winning musical about his time spent in Berlin as a struggling musician. The musical went on to become a Spike Lee-directed film, and earned Stew and his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald international acclaim.


All the while, the Negro Problem was on hiatus, one that will end when Stew, Rodewald and band embark on their first tour in half a decade, starting Oct. 20 with four nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater. The band will travel to eight cities, landing in Los Angeles for two dates at the Getty Museum and the Echoplex.

Full schedule below:

Oct. 20-23, Brooklyn, N.Y. Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Theater
Oct. 26-27, 8 p.m. Davis, Calif. UC Davis, Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. San Francisco. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m. Los Angeles. Getty Museum, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Nov. 2, 9 p.m. Los Angeles. The Echoplex
Nov. 5-6 Seattle. The Triple Door
Nov. 7, 9 p.m. Portland, Ore. Aladdin Theater
Nov. 12-13, 7:30 p.m. Chicago. Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA Stage
Nov. 18-20 Ann Arbor, Mich. 523 S. Main

-- Randall Roberts

Photo, left to right: Heidi Rodewald and Stew. Credit: Jeff Fasano.