Stew explains how he ended up writing "Gary's Song" for Spongebob Squarepants, and then plays it for a very receptive crowd.

Stew and Heidi Rodewald's band; two-time winner of Entertainment Weekly's "Album of the Year" award.

The Negro Problem is the band of Fall 2011 Artist-in-Residence Stew and his collaborator Heidi Rodewald. As songwriters, Stew and Heidi lure with melody, feint with hooks and jab with couplets, sometimes mercilessly. The Negro Problem’s music has been described as a “trippy but accessible brand of psych-influenced power pop” (allmusic.com) and as containing “weird pop confections/ melodic caresses and lyrical pungency” (sfweekly.com).

Stew is a Tony and Obie award-winning singer/songwriter/playwright who lives in Berlin and Brooklyn. He is most well known for his Tony award-winning rock musical Passing Strange. Although he calls himself a rocker, as anyone who has seen that musical––whether on Broadway or as captured on film by Spike Lee––can attest, Stew can shift adeptly between a range of musical styles: Broadway to reggae, gospel to the avant-garde. In the early 1990s he formed his band The Negro Problem with collaborator Heidi Rodewald. His 2000 release Guest Host was named Album of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, and his 2002 album, The Naked Dutch Painter, repeated that feat.

Heidi Rodewald has spent more than a decade as a performer, arranger, producer and composer for both The Negro Problem and the multi-disciplinary ensemble known as Stew. Credits include Passing Strange, Berkeley Repertory Theatre/the Public Theater/the Belasco Theater (2006/2007/2008); composer, Karen Kandel's Portraits: Night and Day (2004); and co-writer with Stew of the screenplay We Can See Today, Sundance Screenwriters Lab/Directors Lab (2005). Heidi also wrote and performed with the seminal female punk band Wednesday Week.

For more information on the series, go to:
arts.wisc.edu/artsinstitute/IAR/stew/events

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