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Hearing Dave Stewart’s name usually conjures an image of him cavorting with Annie Lennox, his partner in beautifully quirky ‘80s pop.
While Stewart will indelibly be linked to Eurythmics, whose British New Wave-soul leanings produced such classics as “Would I Lie to You,” “Here Comes the Rain Again” and the much-covered “Sweet Dreams,” it would be hard to find another musician with more varied interests than this man.
Consider: Over the years he’s produced recordings from everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to Ringo Starr to most recently, Stevie Nicks and Joss Stone.
Between 2009 and 2011 came the birth of SuperHeavy, the supergroup consisting of Stewart, Stone, Mick Jagger and Indian composer A. R. Rahman, among others.
He wrote and produced the musical “Ghost,” which, despite success in London, just closed on Broadway after a brief run. But the musical based on the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore film will soon head to Germany and Australia.
He conceived the idea for and will executive produce Reba McEntire’s return to TV, “Malibu Country,” debuting on ABC in November.
Last year he released “The Blackbird Diaries,” his first new material since 1998 that featured duets with Nicks, Martina McBride and Colbie Caillat. A film based on the making of the album, “The Blackbird Diaries and the Ringmaster General” debuts tonight (AUG22) at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre.
Oh, and he has his own line of wine – a shiraz dubbed The Ringmaster General released in collaboration with Australian winemakers Mollydooker – and another TV show in development about songwriters.
Stewart isn’t. And guess what? He’s opening for Sugarland on Thursday (AUG23) at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta.
Of all of the fascinating twists in his career, opening for one of country’s principal hitmakers might cause the most head-scratching.
But it makes perfect sense to Stewart, who played a handful of dates with the group recently and will open two other shows in Memphis and Oklahoma.
For Stewart, going country-blues for “The Blackbird Diaries,” which he recorded in Nashville at McBride’s studio, wasn’t such an anomaly.
“I’m from the northwest of England and I learned the blues up there. My cousin used to send me records from Memphis,” Stewart said last week from Los Angeles, where he currently resides. “I wanted to play this record live and thought, what kind of artist would be the right one to align myself with?”
He thought of friend Tom Petty, with whom he wrote “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” and Bob Dylan.
But then, “I saw Sugarland on TV and thought, these guys are very much like Annie and me – sort of a country version of Eurythmics.”
What Stewart, who turns 60 next month, didn’t know was that Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush were huge Eurythmics fans, so the partnership was harmonious from the start.
Stewart’s all-female touring band includes ace guitarist Orianthi cq (not surprisingly, Stewart just finished producing her next record) and violinist Ann Marie Calhoun.
He admits that he wasn’t sure what to expect from an amphitheater full of Sugarland fans the first time he opened for the group in Charlotte this spring; it took many in the crowd a while to realize he was that Dave Stewart.
“About halfway through my set, the audience was starting to go nuts, and by the end, I stopped the band and the whole 15,000 [in the crowd] were singing ‘Sweet Dreams,’” he said with a chuckle.
So yes, there will be Eurythmics songs in his set, but recast in a “rock-country-blues” manner.
Stewart is still friends with Lennox – he couldn’t join her at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics because he was vacationing in the Caribbean – and hinted that the two have “something special planned in London next year.”
But it’s not as if he doesn’t have enough to keep his head-spinning until then.
So how does he manage a lifestyle stuffed with varied interests?
“I would say I’m a bit crazy,” he said, laughing. “I was crazy in the wrong way earlier in life with drugs. Then I woke up and said, ‘Hang on, I can go the other way, with creativity.’ As you go through life you find something that you love, and in the world I work in, there’s so many things to love.”
Dave Stewart opens for Sugarland at 7:30 p.m. Thursday
. $30.50-$89.50. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, 2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.