Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra
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Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Best Album/Best Male Vocalist"

Best Male Vocalist: Stefan Couture
Best Local Album: Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra: 'Ghost in the Rearview'

For The Love Of It - - Like just a few other bands in our area, Stefan Couture and his Campfire Orchestra are on the brink of something big. They've been playing steadily throughout the region to good crowds, selling some CDs, even getting some radio play. There's only one catch. On a shoestring budget, like so many other local acts, they don't have professional help. "We're looking for management," says Stefan, "and my sister's helping in publicity. It's a real organic, grass-roots operation." But that operation, which received enough attention for Stefan to be crowned Best Male Vocalist in this year's poll, is beginning to take root. "Our first single was put on a college radio compilation," he says, "which goes out to 500 college radio stations." Countless hours on the Internet has been paying off as well. "We've had success putting our stuff up on iTunes and Rhapsody." Because of all the hard work and dedication, the band is beginning to see that there's both rhyme and reason to the music business and they're starting to figure them out.
"There's always work to be done," says Couture. "But I'm not as frustrated now. At times, it's hard to see where it's all headed; you're not sure if you're doing the right thing. But you do it for the love of it, not the money or the fame. So right now we're taking whatever success we've had and we're trying to make the most of it. We made it up the ladder a little," he laughs, "and it's validating. At least it makes us feel like we're on the right track."
As a lead singer, Couture has enjoyed quite a bit of help. They've had the current lineup - Shawn Leonard on drums, Brian Broulliard on alto/tenor saxes, John "Professor" Cook on keys/Hammond, and Chris Ryan on bass - for about a year and a half, and the consistency has produced great reward. Ghost In the Rearview, the band's latest disc and the winner of Best Local Album, is a collection of accessible, melodic, and soulful tunes with a slightly jazzy, acoustic-based foundation. Co-produced by Couture and Chuck Ladouceur at Red Dog Studios in Blackstone, Massachusetts, the full-band feel and rhythmic ensemble performances are exhilarating. "We're all really excited about this record," says Couture. "The band is solid right now as far as our live act and we're starting to write a little bit for the next record. We don't rehearse as much as we'd like, but seeing the success is making everyone really proud of what we have. We never meant to go for that - it's something that just happened. We never had any publicity scams or marketing ideas. We're just five friends playing music in a room, and whatever happens happens." - Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix

"Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra ignite more than just firewood..."

Shrewd, poignant and unafraid of having a real good time, Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra ignite more than just firewood with their release Ghost in the Rearview. With lyrics as simultaneously uplifting and realistic as Flaming Lips' Functioning parallel to vocals sounding of the laid-back grooves of O.A.R. and Jack Johnson, the group pulls off both an acting maturity and a continuity with youth. True to the title, the album sports very subtle references of the infamous coming of age/ journey of life variety - truckstop southbound, Cadillac road, places in memory - Ashford Street. Couture's voice, although echoing the aforementioned predecessors, is friendly, familiar and still unlike any other

From smooth jazz to homey pop bluegrass, it's all upbeat on Ghost in the Rearview, regardless of the shadows of heavier subject matter. "Holden Caulfield" is an excellent song, as well as parallel for the album's theme of losing innocence and moving on with life. The song itself not only reflects all that Salinger tried to convey, but exists on its own as a steel-reinforced piece of song writing. In addition to songs that go wheee or dense thinkers, Stefan Couture and crew throw out one-liners like, "I'm not saying I love you cuz that just spoils the mood." Just as effortlessly, they can drop songs like "Last Day on Earth," with its slow and dramatic vibe that manages to maintain a comfortable feel-good essence at the same time. -

"The Genuine Article"

Stefan Couture is pretty tired, but it’s a good kinda tired. Last night, he and the band played an unofficial CD release party in New York City at Kenny’s Castaways, where he and his band, the Campfire Orchestra, headlined. They were awake following that party ’til about sun up. "It was so much fun," says Couture. "The place was packed wall to wall."

The fellas will be having a local shindig to celebrate their new disc, Ghost In the Rearview, their first as a real band, at Chan’s this weekend. The show sold out, and the tickets went quickly enough to prompt the venue to add a second show on Sunday. So just what is going on here? Is this one local band that’s actually been tearin’ it up?

"People are diggin’ it, I guess," says Couture. "People can relate to us. We’re not trying to be anything other than ourselves. I think our audience sees us as a bunch of everyday guys; we have no preconceived notions of being rock stars. It’s just genuine. People can see that from their first time at our show."

That regular-guy phenomenon is clearly one thing that’s pushing the band to a good place. Since winning a Phoenix Best Music Poll award for Best Roots Act this year, Couture and company have parlayed that honor into bigger and better gigs in outlying areas. Best of all, they now have an audience everywhere they go. "It’s pretty crazy," says Couture. "Last night, a lot of people came out. The kids are coming out, and some of them are even bringing their folks. It’s not like we’re a cover band or anything, but it’s little things that people see in us that they really ‘get.’ It just connects."

According to Couture, that cross-generational connection is made because his music is universal and "touches upon the human condition." Plus, there’s a little of the old school spirit of songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Damien Rice. "I don’t really understand how we get such a broad cross-section," he says, smiling, "but people come out of the woodwork."

If last weekend in NYC was any indication, the band won’t have much trouble selling their new record. Ghost In the Rearview is a collection of accessible, melodic, and soulful tunes. It has a slightly jazzy, acoustic-based foundation, adorned with funk and passion. Co-produced by Couture and Chuck Ladouceur at Red Dog Studios in Blackstone, Massachusetts, it leaves Couture’s debut disc in the dust with its full-band feel and rhythmic ensemble performances. "We’re all really excited about this record," says Couture. By "all" he refers to bandmates Chris Ryan (bass), Shawn Leonard (drums), Brian Brouillard (sax), and John Cook (keys). While they don’t yet have the luxury of devoting themselves to the band full-time, all of the members work in music-related fields.

"We all believe in what we’re doing — we’re really proud of it," he says. Recording over the better part of the past year, the band put every available dime into getting the disc done and getting it done right. "Chuck is a great engineer," says Couture, "and he’s got a great facility that nobody seems to know about! He does unbelievable work."

Listening to Ghost it’s obvious that Couture and Ladouceur had common goals for the project. It’s an organic work of entertaining intensity and laid-back grooves. "Holden Caulfield" and "Cadillac Road" show incredible promise, and not just on a local/regional scale.

"Every song carves out a different territory. It’s timeless in that way," Couture says. "It doesn’t fade away. It just keeps staying with you."

Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix - Providence Phoenix

"'Great Big Somewhere' Review"

Quote: "Listening to this album can be an enlightening as well as tranquilizing experience".

By Alexandra Press

"Great Big Somewhere…” is a cleverly thought out album with a laid-back yet savvy attitude behind it. Its twelve tracks have a very wholesome nature to them – the carefully planned connection between rich vocals and the mellow background music result in the kind of sound that can best be described as sweet. The lyrics of each song are never without meanings - they touch upon typical "hippie" topics like love and nature. The album’s overall sound is extremely comforting and perfect for getting a little rest and relaxation.

First and foremost, the timbre of Stefan’s voice has a unique edge to it that makes him sound creamy, rich and smooth sort of like soft-serve ice cream. He puts a great deal of humanity into his vocals, giving him a audible personality that is adorable and honest. His voice is somewhat comparable to that of Hootie & The Blowfish's Darius Rucker. When Stefan reaches some of the higher range notes, for example, in the chorus of third track entitled Anymore, his voice effortlessly tackles smooth transitions into higher-pitched notes. Stefan’s enunciation is very appropriate, and his strong performance remains persistent throughout the album.

The real strong point of “Great Big Somewhere…” lies in the instrumentation. The background music in every song has a very relaxing and natural quality to it. This is exemplified in the fifth track, One Less Shadow, which contains summery-nighttime cricket sounds and the calming water sounds of a rain stick. The basic nature of the album's folk genre also has pure tone to it. The basis of the songs is Stefan’s acoustic guitar parts which are impressive to say the least. Songs such as Like This and City Lights showcase his abilities to tweak each string perfectly and produce a tantalizing mix of finger strums and chords. The addition of bongos give Vertigo and a Cup of Coffee a lively beat while still keeping a tranquil and earthy feel. Lastly, a soft, peaceful and soaring violin plays sporadically in tunes like Anymore.

The lyrics throughout this album are beautiful in that they are meaningful to everyone in some way. The second track, City Lights, warms up the audience to the album's messages when it literally says, "We all have our own perceptions." Other clever poetry makes the collection of songs feel like they were written for application to extremely diverse audiences as the themes are universal. After pondering about the messages in the twelve wordy tracks, the listener concludes that Stefan Couture must have a fairly accurate understanding of human nature. Carefully listening to the album can be an enlightening as well as tranquilizing experience.

"Best Local Roots Act 2004"

People music

Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra have only been together a year, but they've made some deep inroads quickly. The Orchestra, which features Couture on guitar and vocals, John Cooke on keys, Shawn Leonard on drums/percussion, Brian Brouillard on saxes, and bassist Chris Ryan, have taken a grassroots approach to their music and audience-building that has netted them fans on both coasts and even overseas. Their current concentration is on the Northeast: Burlington, Vermont, Portland, Maine, and chilly areas of that nature. Nabbing the Best Local Roots Act category of the BMP will certainly help their marketing efforts. "It's so great to get recognized," Stefan says. "We were up against some tough competition, and I'm really surprised we came out on top. It's a great thing for the band."

In addition to getting their name out there and jumpstarting a buzz, they're currently at work on an as yet untitled new disc, to be released in the fall. "We're throwing different things into the mix," says Stefan. "Our sound has really developed into something. We used to have a fiddle player, but now we've picked up a keyboard player and that alone has turned us into a more funkified, acoustic-roots outfit. We fuse a lot of elements of jazz and blues and funk, with soul and smart lyrics."

Couture originally tried his hand at becoming a stereotypical singer-songwriter, but has since enjoyed the magic of a great band. Now he's striving to become a nationally recognized entity, with his sound and vision merging with that of his bandmates. You can witness that magic at his local gigs or, if you must, you can wait until the CD sees release. That date is already set for Thanksgiving weekend at Chan's, where the band has sold out a handful of gigs. The venue certainly appreciates the enthusiasm the Campfire Orchestra brings with it.

"The new songs are rich, soulful pop with hints of folk, jazz, and funk. We'll start using the material this summer and we're confident we'll be OK. We play people music; we're making music for everybody." - Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix

- Providence Phoenix

"Some One-Liners"

In the Press...

"Shrewd, poignant and unafraid of having a real good time, Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra ignite more than just firewood..." Genevieve Will -

"[Their] songs, like “Holden Caufield,” “Ocean Floor,” and “Route,” are well written and offer up something slightly more intellectually stimulating than many indie releases." Mark Fisher -

"Every song is an experience; there is a story in each one..." Jamestown Music

"Couture's friendly, familiar, and still unlike any other..." Genevieve Will -

"Stefan Couture and his Campfire Orchestra are on the brink of something big" Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix

"[Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra's] feel and rhythmic ensemble performances are exhilarating" - Providence Phoenix

"...The timbre of Stefan’s voice has a unique edge to it that makes him sound creamy, rich and smooth sort of like soft-serve ice cream..." Alexandra Press as written on Click here to read the entire review.

"[Ghost in the Rearview] is an organic work of entertaining intensity and laid-back grooves. 'Holden Caulfield' and 'Cadillac Road' show incredible promise, and not just on a local/regional scale." Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix

"...Don't be misled by his band's name and conjure up thoughts of the group performing campy Kumbya-like sing-a-longs around a roaring campfire toasting marshmallows. His words and the band's arrangements are be savored and absorbed each verse at a time." George Beaubien - Staff Writer, Valley Breeze, Cumberland, RI

"[Stefan's] lyrics and melodic tunes deliver a mesmerizing contemporary folk sound with elements of a blues and jazz mix. His rhythm acoustic guitar playing is exceptional, filled with striking riffs that can easily render listeners hypnotic." George Beaubien - Staff Writer, Valley Breeze,
Cumberland, RI

"The lyrics throughout [Stefan's] album are beautiful in that they are meaningful to everyone in some way." - Alexandra Press on

"Through his honest and passionate lyrics, he reaches out to all he performs to..." - CDBaby

"Stefan is the classic Singer/Songwriter..." - Taxi - Los Angeles, California

"Stefan says what other people keep trapped in their heart..." - The San Fransisco Examiner

"Couture captures the sweetness of James Taylor and the fire of John Hiatt..." - Worcester Phoenix

"Couture has his act together..." - Providence Monthly
- Various (Noted)

"Top 10 in 2004"

I’ve featured 10 of the very best full-length rock-punk-etc. albums of the year...

Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra: 'Ghost In the Rearview'

That regular-guy phenomenon that Couture and company have going is one thing that’s pushing this band to a critical place. Will it translate into something great? Possibly. They’re on the verge, I can tell you that. Since winning a Best Music Poll award (for Best Roots Act) in this paper, Couture and company have steadily parlayed that success into bigger and better gigs, converting audiences wherever they go.

Bob Gulla - Providence Phoenix - Providence Phoenix


'Ghost in the Rearview' - 2004
'Great Big Somewhere' - 2002


Feeling a bit camera shy


Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra have taken the traditional singer-songwriter craft and injected it with jazz, high-octane funk, and supersonic soundscapes, creating a truly unique and moving experience for their listeners. In just three years, the band has recorded two full-length studio albums and played to packed houses all over the East Coast, developing a loyal fan base and witnessing an excellent reception from the press everywhere they travel. Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra have poured every life experience into the development of their music, a characteristic evident to all those who attend their performances and is quickly establishing them as one of the Northeast’s premier bands.

Stefan Couture started out, as so many musicians do, delivering his soulful and honest songs with his acoustic guitar on the subway platforms of Boston, Massachusetts. Inspired by the likes of great writers, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan to name a couple, Couture set out to share his life experiences through music, creating songs and lyrics that become relatable human poetry to listeners. Stefan’s sweet, soulful voice, recently named ‘Best Male Vocalist’ by the Providence Phoenix (2005), creates the foundation that the remainder of the group builds upon.

The Campfire Orchestra is anchored by one of the finest rhythm sections around. Berklee graduate Shawn Leonard provides the driving heartbeat of the group. Leonard’s grooves are highly crafted and can’t help but get audiences moving. Leonard is complemented perfectly by the sophisticated bass stylings of Raymond Busby, a talented, up and coming bassist out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Jaco Pastorius meets Victor Wooten style creates a massive underlayment for the rest of the band to build from.

The on-stage dynamics produced by the Campfire usually generate from their primary soloists, Brian Brouillard and John Cooke. Brouillard is a classically trained saxophonist who is pushing the world of the saxophone to its limits. His Sonny Rollins-esque solos flow seamlessly with the lyrics of Couture. He brings the saxophone to the far reaches of the universe by creating haunting soundscapes through the use of various digital and analog effects. John Cooke adds a rich layer to the group’s sound with his beautiful harmonic pads. Cooke’s true energy, however, becomes evident in his solos; as a young pianist his ideas are truly beyond his years. The real magic is recognized in the on-stage chemistry between Cooke and Brouillard. They instinctively build off of one another creating some truly amazing experiences for the listeners.

Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra have recently released their second studio album, Ghost in the Rearview which was named ‘Album of the Year’ by the Providence Phoenix in 2005. The band has brought their unique sound and high energy shows to listeners from coast to coast, gaining friends and fans along the way. The band continues to experiment and write new material and plans to expose their music to several new markets in the near future.