Steph Stewart & the Boyfriends
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Steph Stewart & the Boyfriends

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Band Americana Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The week in music: Jan. 3-7, 2013 10&2: a dozen gigs for your consideration"

Durham singer-songwriter Steph Stewart has often been compared to Tift Merritt and Gillian Welch. Only Welch's most hardscrabble material, though, matches the folk firmament of Stewart. Indeed, her best songs (the sad banjo trot of "Coal" or the longing guitar traipse in "Of the Night") feel like updates to tunes Harry Smith might've collected. Despite the Neko Case nod of her band's name, Stewart seems less interested in smooth country/pop/rock permutations than direct and unflinching tales of reality. SATURDAY, JAN. 5, at BROAD STREET CAFE. Free/10 p.m.. - Independent Weekly

"Soundchecks: Motormouth Mabel, Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends, Harlem Downtrotters"

Steph Stewart’s plaintive vocals conjure up country greats like Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris, but with a subtler, more modern touch. Stewart and bandmates — Omar Ruiz-Lopez on mandolin and fiddle, Mario Arnez on guitar, and Jonah Freedman on bass — create twangy, Appalachian-influenced folk that varies from dark, narrative-heavy tunes like “Coal” to the wispy, James Taylor-esque “Wake Me Carolina.” Stewart’s been writing songs since she was in fifth grade, and grew up in a home filled with music, though not the kind you might expect. “We grew up singing karaoke,” she says. “I used to try to sound like Cher and Olivia Newton John.” That phase passed, and as a teenager she became interested in folk and country. Since all the guitarists she knew were playing tunes from Pearl Jam or Nirvana, she decided to start playing herself. “I was tired of depending on other people to play the music I wanted to sing,” she says. About three years ago, she added the Boyfriends to her lineup, and they’ve been making pretty mountain music across the Southeast ever since. For more, visit —Elizabeth Pandolfi WEDNESDAY. - Charleston City Paper

"Durham songwriter Steph Stewart taps into Americana roots"

Durham songstress Steph Stewart is proud to be from North Carolina but admits that it took her a while to feel that way. Raised in the tiny town of Catawba on the likes of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and The Judds, Stewart felt burned-out after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill and moved to Seattle for a change of scenery.

The grass of the Emerald City, however, proved less green than expected.

“I didn’t really like that as much as I thought I would,” Stewart said, who plays Friday night with her band The Boyfriends at Lexington Avenue Brewery. “I really missed North Carolina, so I moved back to be closer to my family and sunlight.”

Stewart’s return to the Triangle brought with it a new appreciation for her home state and reignited her interest in Appalachian-tinged Americana.

In the fall of 2009, Stewart began playing acoustic sets with original Squirrel Nut Zippers bassist Don Raleigh and veteran instrumentalist Tim Stambaugh. Dubbed “The Boyfriends” during a live interview with a Carrboro radio station, the pair’s collective experience proved crucial to Stewart’s formative years as a performer.

“They really got me off my feet,” Stewart said. “They wanted me to go out and do my own thing.”

Raleigh and Stambaugh’s encouragement led her to current Boyfriends, lead guitarist Mario Arnez, fiddle and mandolin player Omar Ruiz-Lopez and bassist Nick Vandenberg. Together, they’ve toured the Southeast, are hard at work on the trio’s debut album in Vandenberg’s studio, and, playful name aside, have the full backing of Stewart’s partner Steven Horton.

“He’s the most supportive husband you could imagine: totally not jealous, at almost every show, and he helps me a lot with publicity,” Stewart said.

On top of that group harmony, she’s received praise from some of the area’s finest musicians. “Wake Me Carolina,” Stewart’s love letter to her rediscovered home, was named a finalist in last fall’s Our State magazine songwriting contest by a panel that included Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line.

“Just knowing that these people heard my music and liked it and know that I exist just feels kind of awesome,” Stewart said, and though the honor hasn’t led to “hanging out with Rhiannon or anything,” it may result in some professional development. “I emailed her about a banjo lesson, so we’ll see.”

Considering her progress, Stewart may soon be on the receiving end of such requests.

Edwin Arnaudin write about entertainment for Asheville Scene. Email him at - Asheville Citizen Times


Still working on that hot first release.



In June of 2013, the group released their debut album Over the World Below. While this may be the first full-length album from Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends, the journey behind its Appalachian-tinged Americana is as engaging as the music itself.

A native of tiny Catawba, N.C., Stewart tried out life in Sweden and Seattle after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill only to feel the pull of her home state. Returning to the Triangle, she emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and a passion for the roots music of her youth that had never truly left. With the Boyfriends clean instrumentation setting the scene, Stewarts distinct voice conveys these stories with considerable grace. At once youthful and wise, her timbre recalls the genres legendary sirens while maintaining a confidently modern sound.

The group is quickly becoming a prominent fixture in the North Carolina music scene, playing several local festivals and sharing bills with nationally touring acts The Black Lillies, The Last Bison, The Stray Birds and Lost in the Trees. In May, ReverbNation selected the quartet to play the Carrboro Block Party at Cats Cradle. Around the same time, they were also nominated for Best Americana Performer at the 2013 Carolina Music Awards.

Band Members