With influences that range from The Beatles to The Allman Brothers Band to reggae music and jazz, the highly anticipated band The Stews will return to Oxford tonight to play at Proud Larry’s.
The Stews consists of Preston Hall (lead vocals and guitar), Blake Dobbs (rhythm guitar), Bennet Baugus (bass guitar) and Wyatt Griffith (drums and backing vocals) and currently has more than 50 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify.
Unlike many of the other indie rock bands to roll through Oxford, The Stews actually has a close-to-home SEC connection.
“Everything kind of started in high school,” Griffith said. “It was me, Blake and Bennet, and we were all in a band in Atlanta at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. I went to Auburn University, and that’s where I met our lead singer, Preston. Basically he seemed like the perfect missing piece from what we had already going on in high school.”
After a trip to Atlanta in the winter of 2019, the members came together for a jam, which actually resulted in the song “Slip Away,” which is on their first, self-titled EP.
In the beginning, The Stews stayed close to home, hitting the college town circuit playing frat parties and backyard jams
“When we started up, it was mainly just a lot of parties around Tuscaloosa,” Griffith said. “We were playing in Auburn every other week at throw downs.”
The Stews still play frat parties and backyard throw downs, but, in light of recent success and growth in its fanbase, the band has started more ticketed shows taking the group from New York to Texas to Colorado.
Despite setbacks like two break-ins targeting equipment in Denver and Albuquerque, N.M., The Stews kept a tone of positivity and noted that the band has continually been met with excitement and success.
“We really show up, and we don’t even know if it’s a good market for us and it’s turned out a lot better than expected,” Griffith said. “Especially this last summer tour, where we went to Texas for the first time and played to basically sold-out shows in Austin and Dallas with our friends 87 Nights. That was awesome.”
For the show in Oxford, concert-goers can expect a show with lots of energy filled with powerful rock and softer moments.
“We like being able to go from a song like ‘Notions,’ a more low-key kind of sound and vibe, to something like our song ‘Fireline,’ which is just kind of in-your-face rock and roll,” Griffith said. “With our EP and with our album, we’ve delved into different genres with each of those, and there’s a good plethora of different styles and different sounds.”
When asked to give one song recommendation for a first time listener to The Stews, the members crowded around the phone during their interview and came to no consensus.
On a personal note, as someone who goes to a lot of concerts in Oxford, this is probably the best thing that I could hear from any artist coming to play here. Mimicking Griffith, I would probably recommend “Fireline” as well as their song “Too Much to Lose.”
In the future, The Stews have aspirations to expand beyond the eastern half of the country.
“We’re going to Europe, and next year we’re trying to go to the West Coast,” Baugus said.
The Stews noted that the band’s success over the past two years has been based on pure dedication and sticking together.
“To have people that are all on the same page, you know sometimes you get (mad) and want to do something on your own or whatever, but at the end of the day we’re all so content with doing it for the band,” Hall said.
Griffith shared a similar sentiment.
“The biggest contributing factor to our rise to some more popularity is that we believed in ourselves and stuck to a good mentality over everything, and that’s worked out in our favor,” Griffith said.