Sometime in the late 90’s I spoke to a friend of mine who owns a local club and explained that she must, absolutely must book The Negro Problem. She was aghast, told me should couldn’t book a band by that name, then she asked me if they were black. Well yes, Stew, the lead singer is, I replied, and he’s one of the more brilliant singer-songwriter dudes I’ve seen in ages, and his band is killer. I guess my friend changed her mind because they eventually played her club. The band’s reputation has since grown far and wide among discerning music lovers, even while the hulking indifferent music industry has ignored them with dull reliability. Of the many memorable songs that echoed in my head for years after seeing the NP perform live, the one that haunted me most was a piece called “Peter Jennings.” As I scour the Intergoogle today, I’m not finding any promotional mp3s of this fine band, but they do have some songs (including “Peter Jennings”) available on Mog All Access, which is worth joining, and you can also buy their mp3s from iTunes. Another standout from their superb “Joys and Concerns” album is “If You Would Have Traveled On The 93 North Today.” Heck it’s all good, “Mahnsanto” is stunning, “Bleed” is another – all heartbreaking, funny, intelligent, beautiful work. More recently Stew and his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald composed a musical theater production called Passing Strange, which Spike Lee made a movie of, which you can see on PBS. All highly recommended. That is all.