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Good chemistry leads
Bruton to New Bedford


The blues are coming to New Bedford.

Stephen Bruton, on a solo tour, will be making
a stop at downtown's Café Arpeggio with just
a guitar in hand. A veteran of the music
business and accomplished singer/
songwriter, the Texas native has shared the
stage with some of music's true icons,
including Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and
Bob Dylan.
He's going it alone for the first time in his career on this tour, just him and his guitar. But on Friday, Sept. 16, he
won't be without company

Opening for Bruton will be Neal McCarthy and Jamison Toomey, who first opened for him at a private party in
Boston at the invitation of New Bedford native Gary Fortin, who organized the event.

"Stephen got a kick out of these guys from Boston singing like Willie Nelson," Fortin recalled. "The decision to
return the favor and do a show in New Bedford was an easy one for everyone involved."

"I enjoyed their whole set," Bruton said. "It's a great thing that happens with the duet, the vibe, I thought it was real
good. It was real chemistry between the two of them."

"There's just a level of admiration (for Bruton)," McCarthy said. "I have a certain amount of admiration for anyone
who can survive in this business, never mind playing with the greats he has, and still remain a humble,
wonderful nice guy.

"Working with Little Feat, Bonnie, Kris Kristofferson, that's something to admire."

So, with McCarthy and Toomey setting the stage, Bruton will bring his brand of traditional country and blues to
the Whaling City.

Bruton himself may be the ultimate example of a student of song. Growing up in a record store owned by his
father, who himself was a jazz musician, Bruton cut his teeth in the clubs of Austin, Texas, playing blues, R&B,
country, rock -- whatever was required on a given night. Through playing with local legends and on up to more
marquee acts, Bruton eventually developed his own song craft, which has resulted in five solo albums, including
his latest,
From the Five.

"It's all music -- good music and bad music, and you have to know your craft very very well," Bruton said. "As a
musician, I got to play with great songwriters and great singers. I've had a leg up, I didn't know much about
songwriting until I met Kristofferson, and I couldn't be more honored.

"It's a symbiotic relationship; you learn what works musically and you start inadvertently becoming a songwriter.
You don't think about carrying on this tradition, you just start doing it."

In fact, a song  McCarthy and Toomey played that first night, Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the
Night," originally featured Bruton on guitar.

McCarthy and Toomey will be playing songs from their album
In The Company Of, released earlier this year, but
McCarthy's penchant for playing other songs interspersed with his originals is nothing new.

"I don't hesitate to play songs that aren't mine," McCarthy said. "A song is a song — old favorites, songs by other
people, my own stuff -- we'll see if we can't mix it up.

"Besides, Stephen's a laid back dude."

The very thought of anyone setting the stage for Bruton was a curious one for a man who had earned his stripes
by being a member of several bands. The experience has been a rewarding one for the 55-year-old, though, as
he has branched off in the direction that his own music dictates.

"Every gig helps, no matter what the gig is," Bruton said. "I never really thought I would be a solo act, much less
have my own album. I've always been a team player.

"Inadvertently, I wound up getting a solo record deal; it had been the furthest thing from my mind. So what
happened was it just pushed me out of the nest, and this pushed me into a situation where you were front and
center, it wasn't unknown territory and it was scary.

"Now, my fifth album is coming out, and I couldn't be happier."

Check out Stephen Bruton, Neal McCarthy and Jamison Toomy online.

This story appeared on Page C7 of The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass., on September 15, 2005.
Stephen Bruton