Alice Stuart

Born June 15, 1942 in Chelan, Washington, Alice’s old-timey/blues-folk style first gained her attention when she performed at venues such as the Pamir House in nearby Seattle, gigs that led her into residency TV work on the Hootenanny show in the early 60s. Befriending two young musicians, Steve Lolar and Don McAllister (soon-to-be of the DAILY FLASH), and having flitted to L.A., she also stumbled on the work of great blues artists like FURRY LEWIS, BLIND WILLIE McTELL and BESSIE SMITH, all good stead and inspiration – as was her friendship with MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT via the Berkeley Folk Festival – to encourage the release of her debut LP, ALL THE GOOD TIMES (1964) {*5}.
Coming across as a post-JOAN BAEZ acolyte (and with only one original on board, `Beatnik’), Alice was pleasant enough on trad dirges such as `Seven Daffodils’ (an old hit for The WEAVERS), `Black Jack David’, `Once I Had A Sweetheart’, `Stackerlee’ and TOM PAXTON’s `I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound’.
Becoming the girlfriend of FRANK ZAPPA, Alice soon acquainted herself with his MOTHERS OF INVENTION outfit, joining them for a stint in ‘65/’66 until her time with the avant-rock man expired, their musical differences miles apart; she relocated to Virginia City, Nevada. Subsequently establishing herself as a songwriter (with the help of guitarist John Shine), STUART formed her own Berkeley, California-based performing band, while session work on her long-awaited, self-penned sophomore set, FULL TIME WOMAN (1970) {*6}, was down to Vic Smith and Louis Aissen (guitars), John Kahn (bass), Mark Naftalinon (piano, accordion) and Richard Greene (fiddle); the latter straight outta the JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND.
Now with her band Snake in tow (aka bassist Kark Sevareid and drummer Bob Jones), her third album, BELIEVING (1972) {*4} – featuring a cover of HANK SNOW’s `Golden Rocket’ – did little to improve her critical or commercial standing. She continued to work as a singer on the San Fran circuit, but nothing was heard from her (apart from a brief vocal credit on the soundtrack to adult animation flick Fritz The Cat), for over two decades.
Spurred on by big-name followers such as BONNIE RAITT, MELISSA ETHERIDGE and KATE WOLF, STUART herself returned to the recording front by way of blues-orientated sets, REALLY GOOD! (1996) {*5} and CRAZY WITH THE BLUES (2000) {*6} (both credited with bassist Prune Rooney); further sets comprised CAN’T FIND NO HEAVEN (2002) {*5}, LIVE AT THE TRIPLE DOOR (2005) {*6} and FREEDOM (2007) {*5}, the latter credited with The Formerlys, aka seasoned musicians Marc Willett and Steven Flynn, who’d been part of revival versions of The KINGSMEN and the CHUCK BERRY band respectively.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Sep2015

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