Stew & The Negro Problem at Barbès: A refuge from the storm and a special surprise

Blizzard? Who cares, when there’s a chance to see Stew, Heidi and the gang in an intimate Brooklyn boîte

Stew and Heidi Rodewald perform with a version of their band, The Negro Problem, at Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn in March 2011. And yes, that's Joe McGinty in the foreground.  (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Stew and Heidi Rodewald perform with a version of their band, The Negro Problem, at Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn in March 2011. And yes, that’s Joe McGinty in the foreground. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

If the predicted nightmare blizzard doesn’t bring New York City to a screeching halt on Friday, you should be at  Barbès in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood to catch a surprisingly un-publicized gig by Stew & The Negro Problem.

(Click through to the jump for all the details.)This show is so under the radar that it’s not even on TNP’s gig list on the internet. But trust us, it’s happening. Stew made an  even more-under-the-radar cameo with woodwind giant Mike McGinnis‘ band The Four Bags at the tiny Park Slope boîte on Jan 14. While traipsing through three songs (two in rough German: Barry Manilow‘s “Could It Be Magic” and “Edelweiss”) he let slip the TNP date slip even before it was on the club schedule.

Stew, Heidi Rodewald and whoever’s available to fill out the TNP lineup (mostly, but not necessarily all, of them from the McGinnis-Joe McGinty Loser’s Lounge circle) will pack into the music room. That’ll leave maybe 60 spots for fans to elbow their way in, enjoy some of the place’s fine libations and feast on the magic that is The Negro Problem.

If you’ve been living under a rock, or are having memory problems, Stew and Heidi are also the folks who wrote the fantastic Broadway musical Passing Strange, the musical that tells a fictionalized version of Stew’s coming of age in Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Berlin — a work that grew out of his song repertoire. It also won Stew the 2008 Tony Award for best book of a musical.

Our advice to you is don’t be a minute late. Barbès is, after all, tiny. And the sets are short. TNP is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. In the set, according to the club site,  “The Negro Problem will interpret (some) songs from Passing Strange and more unreleased material.”

Although TNP’s set is on the calendar for just an hour, fans should plan to stick around for the 11 p.m. act, too, The Chez Ocean Corrective.

Never heard of it? Maybe not, but its members are mighty familiar. The Barbès site describes the Corrective as  “a songwriter collective featuring Stew, Chris Rael of Church of Betty, members of The Four Bags, and more.”

Stew said last month that The Four Bags would be involved in this show. That’s no surprise, since McGinnis plays regularly in the TNP lineup, and at least one other member of his band has appeared with Stew at some point.

So, how about that. Two hours of Stew — or maybe more, since the Corrective is the last band scheduled for the night.

So forget about the snow. Even if NYC does come to a screeching halt, you should make it to Barbès. Walk if you have to.  It’ll certainly be worth the effort.

We won’t have the option of walking. We’ll be stuck somewhere north of the city, unable to make it anywhere near Brooklyn if the snow is as bad as predicted. So we won’t make it, sadly. Please take notes for us!

DETAILS: Stew & The Negro Problem, The Chez Ocean Corrective. Show starts at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.  TNP performs first. At Barbès, 376 9th St. (corner of 6th Ave.) Park Slope, Brooklyn. (347) 422-0248. No tickets required, but $10 donation strongly suggested.

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