If you’ve never seen Stefan Couture perform live, then June 10 at Chan’s in Woonsocket is the night to do it. Couture was nominated as one of the best singer/songwriters in Motif’s 2022 poll, and his newest collection, A Brief and Binding Light, clearly shows why. The album will drop on all streaming platforms on June 10 and Couture, with long-time musical collaborator the Moondog (Matt Nolan) will be celebrating with a release party at Chan’s that evening.
The songs on A Brief and Binding Light are a testament to the friendship that started on the April Fools Day blizzard of 1997 and has spanned over 26 years. Some of the songs on the new EP were written that night. Couture told us: “We went back to where we started and recovered a handful of them that have never seen the light of day. They just never got a chance.”
Both Couture and Nolan have been fans of albums like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Counting Crows August and Everything After,collections that work together as a complete unit, so before they even got into the studio, they made sure there was a cohesive flow.
Nolan told us: “We recorded all six of those tracks in the studio in one day, then took the next six months to color and fine tune them. We wanted to convey a feeling, an emotion, and develop a progression through the whole album.”
Couture kept that continuity in his choice of producers. “We recorded at Red Dog Studios in Blackstone, MA, with Chuck Ladeucer. He’s been a long time friend and collaborator – he worked on my previous two albums as well. My first was a solo, 22 years ago, so we have a long relationship. It seemed natural to bring him to the table.”
Couture is a player with real staying power; even the pandemic couldn’t stop him. During the harshest lockdowns, on Saturday nights in northern Rhode Island you could find Stefan Couture at his Virtual Campfire, streaming to a burgeoning crowd of listeners who tuned in to his show to warm up their COVID isolation. A listener posted: “Love this guy! His Virtual Campfire acoustic shows make for some groovy Saturdays in quarantine.”
Stefan first learned how to connect with his audience in the subways of Boston, busking for a constantly changing collection of commuters. “Usually a group would have to move on, and I could play the same song again for an entirely different crowd.” For a songwriter, this was a great experience. It lead to two earlier albums, Ghost in the Rearview with the Campfire Orchestra and Great Big Somewhere, and now to a website and media presence complete with an online store replete with sweatshirts and tees, stickers, hats and mugs – just about everything that a laid-back music lover might need. Nolan told us: “As you get to know Stefan, there’s this whole universe that surrounds the music – merchandise, art and design for the album – he creates it all himself.” Nolan himself is creating a comic book around his Moondog character that goes in tandem with everything else the two are doing to create a buzz.
At this point, the duo’s audience covers a broad range, with listeners who like anything from jazz to blues to folk, along with people who fit into the jam band scene. They’re anywhere from late 20s to late 60s. It seems that no matter what you listen to, you can find a little piece of yourself in this music. Said Couture: “There’s not a lot of flash and snake oil going on. It’s just the two of us, trying to create a bigger room than you bought a ticket for. It’s always going to be honest and it’s always going to be fun.”
Come see for yourself at Chan’s on June 10.