Michael Ivan Stewart

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Michael Ivan Stewart
Mike Stewart
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Born (1952-09-16) September 16, 1952 (age 71)
Washington, DC
CitizenshipUnited state

Michael Ivan Stewart (born September 16, 1952) – professionally known as Mike Stewart as well as nicknamed "Stewball" and, in Europe, "Texas Mike" – is an American record producer and recording engineer,[1] artist manager, musician, songwriter and singer as well as independent record company executive who divides his time between Austin, TX and Amsterdam, NL. He is best known for his associations with Austin musical acts The True Believers, Poi Dog Pondering, Calvin Russell and The Gourds as a producer and engineer[2] as well as manager. He co-produced two albums by The Dead Milkmen (with Brian Beattie)[3] and produced/engineered recordings by Austin acts Doug Sahm, Tail Gators, Omar & the Howlers, Wild Seeds and Glass Eye, among others. Mike has also produced such European artists as Denmark's Poul Krebs, Norway's Henning Kvitnes and American/Dutch singer-songwriter Michael de Jong. Since the mid-2000s he has been recording, releasing and performing his own songs.

Early Life

Born in Washington, DC, Stewart is the son of a Church of Christ minister whose academic studies and career led to an itinerant youth living in Silver Spring, MD, San Diego, CA, Wichita, KS, Colorado Springs, CO, Albuquerque, NM (twice), Amarillo, TX, Lubbock, TX and Oklahoma City, OK, where he started playing guitar and singing in rock bands in his teens and graduated from Putnam City High School in 1970.

Early Musical Career

As the Oklahoma City band Religious Bull was reforming into Zazoo, Stewart was added as guitarist, writer and additional vocalist. The band released a single on Mercury Records and worked a summer residency at the Red Dog Saloon topless club. Stewart also played in the groups Bad Axe and Ashhollow with Zazoo drummer/vocalist Gary Bruce. Zazoo singer Paul Medina[4] went on to success as a visual artist. The bands Stewart was in opened shows throughout the Southwest for such acts as the Young Rascals, Steppenwolf and Trapeze.

Mike landed a job cleaning up an Oklahoma City recording studio, Producers Workshop, in exchange for free studio time and learning multitrack recording. While there, he served as an assistant engineer on a recording project produced by Terry Melcher and Mark Lindsay. Stewart also started working on recordings at the Zazoo rehearsal studio at the Central State Hospital in Norman OK, a mental hospital where guitarist Bill Kirtley and bassist Michael Hanna were music therapists, and later in Dallas at Sumet Sound Studio.[5]

Recording & Management Career

In 1983, Stewart moved to Austin, TX. On his first night in town, he landed two jobs: mixing live sound at Steamboat nightclub and working as a recording assistant at Riverside Studios for Richard Mullen, known for his work with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Not long after he became an on-call engineer at Arlyn Studios, owned by Lisa and Freddy Fletcher, son of Bobbie Nelson, Willie Nelson's sister and longtime piano player. Among his earliest duties for Arlyn was working as an assistant engineer (uncredited) on Bonnie Raitt's Grammy-winning album Nick of Time, produced by Don Was.

Stewart had also set up a home recording studio with an Otari 550 eight-track tape deck and select analog gear. Among the Austin artists he was producing at home were Jon Dee Graham, who had enjoyed local popularity as a guitarist, singer and songwriter with The Skunks and The Lift, and Alejandro Escovedo, who had recently bowed out as guitarist in Rank & File and was starting a band with his brother Javier, the True Believers. Alejandro and Jon Dee Graham met at Stewart's home studio, where Alejandro asked Jon Dee if would like to join the True Believers. Thus began their trademark "tightly woven three-guitar attack," as AllMusic describes it,[6] also noting.

Recordings made at Stewart's house and at Arlyn, Riverside Sound and Lone Star Studio became the group's eponymous first album, which he engineered and co-produced with Jim Dickinson. It was released via a deal between Rounder Records and EMI in 1986. Mike partnered with journalist/author Joe Nick Patoski, at the time managing Joe "King" Carrasco, to co-manage the "Troobs," as the band were known to some of their followers. Stewart accompanied the group on the road as their tour manager and live sound mixer. During 1986 and 1987, the True Believers opened over 180 shows for Los Lobos, during which time Stewart often mixed for Los Lobos.

Stewart also engineered and produced two albums by the Tail Gators (released by Zippo and Wrestler Records) and LPs by the Wild Seeds (Jungle Records) and Glass Eye (Wrestler and Bar None Records) – co-produced with the band's Brian Beattie, who also co-produced two albums with Stewart for the The Dead Milkmen (Enigma Records). Stewart also engineered and co-produced with Beattie the 1988 Ed Hall album Albert (Boner Records). He was an engineer on the 1988 True Believers recording sessions for a second album with producer Jeff Glixman, which at the time went unreleased due to being caught up in record label merger issues. The album was finally issued in 1994 by Rykodisc as a two-CD set with the band's debut as Hard Road.

In 1987, the itinerant Hawaiian band Poi Dog Pondering settled in Austin and was booked by Stewart to open a show for the True Believers at The Continental Club. He invited the group to record with him at Arlyn, the results of which became their 1988 self-titled six-song cassette-only EP on Texas Hotel Records. Stewart became the manager of the band, who signed a deal with Columbia Records, and the EP became the first Columbia release for Poi Dog. The band's Frank Orral says on his website[7]: "This album sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded thanks to Mike Stewart's warm analogue recording." He produced and engineered their 1989 self-titled major label album, and engineered and co-produced its follow-up, Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea, released in December 1989 and hailed by AllMusic as "an irresistible party of an album" and the group's "breakthrough." Mike also later produced the first album by Poi Dog violinist Susan Voelz, 13 Ribs.

During the late 1980s Stewart continued producing and engineering albums for other Austin acts like Omar & The Howlers (Monkeyland, co-produced with Kevin Wommack), The Highwaymen (soon after to change their name to Loose Diamonds) and Shoulders, among others. His stature as a key Austin music business figure in those years is reflected by his South By Southwest "Mike Stewart Presents" showcases during the music festival's first four years.

While Stewart was working on an album for Austin roots-rocker Calvin Russell, a local club act who had signed by New Rose Records in France, he put together a band to back Russell on a French tour: Graham on guitar, former Giant Sand bassist Scott Garber, a onetime Poi Dog drummer Darren Hess. They recorded a live album in Paris, Le Voyageur, produced by Stewart and released in 1991. The studio disc, Dream of the Dog, was released in Europe soon after.

In the mid-1990s Stewart produced the debut album by The Gourds, Dem's Good Beeble, and soon after became their manager and signed them to the Dutch independent label Munich Records, for which he also was the label manager of the company's US operations. He produced and engineered three other albums and an EP – Shinebox, which included the band's cover of Snoop Dog's "Gin & Juice," a cult Internet hit for them, aided by it being originally mistakenly credited by some to Phish – for what was called the "national band of Austin" as well as a popular touring act across North America and in Europe. Mike also produced the band's collaboration with Doug Sahm, "Get a Life," that was the title track to Sahm's 1998 European album release on Munich Records, issued in the US as S.D.Q. '98 on Watermelon Records.

In 1995, Stewart produced four tracks at Pedernales Studio for the soundtrack to the best-selling video game Treasure Quest, which in 1996 won the Invision Gold Award for Best Strategy/Puzzle Game Title from New Media magazine. The songs were written and sung by Jody Marie Gnant. Mike also brought in Beattie and Austin singer-songwriter Michele Solberg to play on the recordings, which were also released as a music CD.

Music Festival Work & Gatherings

Stewart began the continuing SXSW program of free concerts on Austin's Auditorium Shores in 1990 by persuading Columbia Records to fund a show there during the music festival for his management clients, "Poi in the Park," at which Willie Nelson performed a few songs with the band. He also produced four SXSW Live compilations of recordings from festival showcases in the early-to-mid 1990s.

After SXSW founder and co-director Louis Jay Meyers bowed out of the event's leadership in 1996, he and Stewart formed a working partnership on a number of ventures.[8] Mike was production director on three other music conferences that Meyers headed: LMNOP (Louisiana Music New Orleans Pride) in New Orleans from 1998 to 2000, which focused on what had been the original mission of SXSW of fostering and promoting grassroots independent music; A2A: Access to Amsterdam, a SXSW-style conference/festival organized by NPI (Nederlands Pop Institute) and supported by Netherlands Ministry of Culture, that had the unfortunate fate of having its debut event scheduled a month after 9/11; and Folk Alliance International, for which Meyers served as executive director from 2005 to 2014.

In 1998, Meyers invited Stewart to play bass in the band at the Song Island gathering on Denmark's Samsø Island. The event fostered collaborations among Danish songwriters with those from other European nations such as Scotsman Boo Hewerdine and Americans Kevin Welch, David Olney, Theresa Anderssen and Troy Campbell (from Loose Diamonds, who would later found a similar initiative in Austin, House of Songs). After two years at the gathering, Stewart decided to move to Samsø the following year.

Recording & Living in Europe

Mike's frequent travels to and stays in Europe led him to begin recording artists there. His first project was engineering the 1992 debut album by English neo-country rockers The Rockingbirds with producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, with whom he had co-produced Poi Dog Pondering's Volo Volo album.

In 1998, Stewart was asked to co-produce Danish chart-topping artist Poul Krebs (along with Søren Jacobsen & Bjarne Nygaard). These recordings became Krebs' Danish platinum 1999 album Forbandede Vidunderlige Tøs. Sessions were done in at Arlyn in Austin and in New Orleans at Daniel Lanois' Kingsway studio and on Samsø Island. Stewart brought in various notable musicians including: guitarist David Grissom, drummer Rafel Gayol, bassist Mark Andes, guitarist Tommy Malone (Subdudes) and drummer Kenneth Blevins.

During the preproduction Poul Krebs wondered if Stewart be interested in putting a studio in a house on a high hill on Samsø Island if Krebs purchased it. Stewart helped quickly install a state-of-the-art 48-track studio, in the house with the clever and smart assistance of Danish engineer Paul Hamman. The historical property was called Dansebjerg (Dance Mountain). The Krebs album was finished and mixed at Dansebjerg. In the two years Dansbjerg existed as a commercial studio Stewart also recorded there the Danish rock band Inside the Whale, singer-songwriter Michele Solberg, Danish pop-rockers Splint, Danish folk singer-songwiter Steffan Wolfbrandt, and the 1991 album by Henning Kvitnes. Heartland.

After two years in Denmark, Mike moved to Amsterdam, where he dove into the local scene, hanging out in dance clubs and at indie music shows, playing bass in a Johnny Cash cover band, The Boys Named Sue, and giving guitar lessons to Dutch cult star Lucky Fonz. He installed the sound system at the club in The Winston hostel in the heart of the city's famed red-light district and then was live sound engineer for the musical acts appearing there on weekends. His immersion in the local scene resulted in production work for Dutch musical acts, including Jewel in the Mire, Marynka Nicolai, Kain (Lost Poets), Mustango, Skip the Rush & Joep Pelt. Eventually dividing his time between the Netherlands and Texas, his recent Austin productions include the English expatriate Americana duo The Arlenes, a "bluegrass opry" version of the Who's Tommy by the rocking Ozarks bluegrass band the Hillbenders (co-produced and conceived by Meyers), a True Believers EP of archival live and studio recordings Dedication, an album by Graham and putting together an EP of archival live and studio recordings by the True Believers, Dedicated, and as-yet-unreleased creative remixes of Shinyribs tracks.

His Own Music

Throughout the decades of his recording work, Mike also contributed music to his sessions (guitar, bass and vocals, and on occasion provided songwriting assistance. Although he wrote songs in his early bands, he debuted as a singing and guitar playing songwriter in his own right with the 2007 self-released album London Song Collection, cut with the Tumbleweed Cartel, whose members included Tim Jaspers, Jaromir Fernig, Bart Heijs, Saskia Van Drimmelin and Aaron Cole. Stewart has since released two EPs as Mike Stewart Theory, recorded in England, Denmark and Germany, and co-produced with Marcus Praed (guitarist with Tito and Tarantula and Cliff Barnes and the Fear of Winning), guitarist and award-winning filmmaker Søren Jacobsen (who has worked with American-born Danish country singer and songwriter Tamra Rosane, Danish country-rock and gospel singer and songwriter Esther Brohus and Kevin Welch) and Sean Read (Kevin Rowland's Dexys. Manic Street Preachers, Edwin Collins, Beth Orton)

In 2023 he started performing in Austin with his own combo, The Mike Stewart Theory, plus playing "songs and stories" shows with Graham.[9] That same year Stewart released his entire collection of written and recorded songs from 2007 on the Austin-based indie label Flak Records. They were recorded in Austin, Amsterdam, London and Norwich, UK, Oklahoma City, Samsø and Copenhagen.

Compilation Albums

In addition to the four SXSW compilations he did, Stewart also produced three Best of Austin City Limits albums of recordings culled from the vaults of the famed PBS TV concert show: Country Music's Finest Hour, Legends of County Music and Big Blues Extravaganza. In 1995, he co-produced with music journalist Rob Patterson a compilation of rising Texas music acts, Austin County Nights, nominated for a Best Country Album Indie Award. Mike's other compilation production work includes a best of album for Austin reggae band the Killer Bees and two collections of recordings by Texas guitar hero Denny Freeman from the Amazing Records vaults, released by Jungle Records.

Tour Managing & Live Sound Work

From the late 2000s, in between album productions and stays in the Netherlands, Stewart leant his well-honed engineering and road managing skills to a wide range of artists.

  • Linda Eder (2008–2020)
  • Los Lonely Boys (2009–2022)
  • Straight No Chaser (2008)
  • Rachael Yamagata (2009)
  • Eric Johnson (2012–2018)
  • Rufus du Sol (2014)
  • Beats Antique (2014)
  • Edgar Winter (2018–2023)
  • Marshall Crenshaw (2018)


Mike has two daughters from his marriage to Janet Diane Knight, who died from cancer in 1982. He is a proud grandfather to three grandkids.


  • 1986: Mumbo Jumbo – Tail Gators
  • 1896: True Believers – The True Believers (co-produced with Jim Dickinson)
  • 1986: Brave, Clean and Reverent – Wild Seeds
  • 1987: Music Without Tears – Fortune Tellers (co-produced with Alejandro Escovedo)
  • 1987: Grains of Faith – Grains of Faith (self-released cassette)
  • 1988: Bent By Nature – Glass Eye (co-produced with Brian Beattie)
  • 1988: Mamou (self-titled)
  • 1988: Beezlebubba – The Dead Milkmen
  • 1989: Poi Dog Pondering (self-titled)
  • 1989: Revisted – The Highwaymen (EP)
  • 1989: Hungry Man's Dance – Shoulders
  • 1990: Hide Your Eyes – Tail Gators
  • 1990: Wiggin' – Stick People
  • 1990: Monkeyland – Omar & The Howlers (co-produced with Kevin Wommack)
  • 1991: Trashman's Shoes – Shoulders
  • 1991: Le Voyageur – Calvin Russell
  • 1992: Rockingbirds (self-titled; engineered)
  • 1992: Volo Volo – Poi Dog Pondering (co-produced with Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley)
  • 1992: Dream of the Dog – Calvin Russell
  • 1993: 13 Ribs – Susan Voelz
  • 1994: Songs for Weddings and Funerals – The Illegal Artists (co-produced with artist)
  • 1994: Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea – Poi Dog Pondering
  • 1995: Treasure Chest – Jody Marie Gnant
  • 1995: Head Above Water – Mumbleskinny
  • 1996: Dem's Good Beeble – The Gourds
  • 1997: Hinge – Mumbleskinny
  • 1998: Stadium Blitzer – The Gourds
  • 1998: "Get a Life" – Doug Sahm (single with The Gourds)
  • 1998: Floating – The Gourds
  • 1999: Reach Out – Breedlove
  • 1999: Heartland – Henning Kvitnes
  • 1999: Forbandede Vldunnderlige Tøs – Poul Krebs
  • 2000: Bolsa de Agua – The Gourds
  • 2000: Immaculate Deception – Michael de Jong
  • 2000: Heartland – Henning Kvitnes (co-produced with Louis Jay Meyers)
  • 2001: Go Git Yer Shinebox – The Gourds
  • 2001: Buttermilk and Rifles – Kevin Russellmpilaympil
  • 2001: Park Bench Serenade – Michael de Jong
  • 2002: Størt & Småt – Stefan Wolfbrandt
  • 2002: Privet – Marinka Nicolai (co-produced with artist)
  • 2002: Getting away with Murder – Jewel in the Mire (co-produced with Marinka Nicolai)
  • 2004: Going to California – The Arlenes
  • 2005: All is Fit For Tonight – Skip The Rush
  • 2006: Too Much is Not Enough – Marinka Nicolai
  • 2007: Historical Compilation – Killer Bees
  • 2007: Texas Mike and the Tumbleweed Cartel – Mike Stewart
  • 2007: Yougoba – Lobi Traoé (co-produced with Joep Pelt)
  • 2013: Dedication – True Believers
  • 2015: Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry – The HillBenders (co-produced with Louis Jay Meyers)
  • 2016: Full – Jon Dee Graham
  • 2021: Sleepers Awake at Night – The Saanossphetre
  • 2023: On & On – Mike Stewart Theory (Co-produced with Marcus Praed, Søren Jacobsen & Sean Read)
  • 2023: Just Like Me – Mike Stewart Theory (Co-produced with Marcus Praed, Søren Jacobsen & Sean Read)


  • 1993: SXSW Live Vol. 1 – Various Artists
  • 1994: SXSW Live Vol. 2 – Various Artists
  • 1995: SXSW Live Vol. 3 – Various Artists
  • 1995: Austin Country Nights – Various Artists (co-produced with Rob Patterson)
  • 1996: SXSW Live Vol. 4
  • 1996: The Best of Austin City Limits: Country Music's Finest Hour – Various Artists (produced & mastered)
  • 1997: The Best of Austin City Limits: Legends of Country Music – Various Artists (produced & mastered)
  • 1997: One – Texas Electronica – Various Artists (co-produced with Myles Faulkner)
  • 1998: The Best of Austin City Limits: Big Blues Extravaganza – Various Artists (produced & mastered)
  • 2023: Out of the Blue – Denny Freeman (Compilation Production & Mastering)
  • 2023: Out of Control – Denny Freeman (Compilation Production & Mastering)


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