Danny Stewart has been around bluegrass all his life. His dad, also Danny Stewart, and his granddad are bluegrass pickers, and young Mr. Stewart studied the music in the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program at East Tennessee State University.
While also serving as bass player for The Larry Stephenson Band, Danny has been an adjunct faculty member at ETSU this past three years, teaching several bluegrass instruments and leading ensembles.
But now he’s made a major career change. He’s not leaving music, but has enlisted in the US Navy in order to play with Country Current, the Navy’s bluegrass band based in Washington, DC. In so doing, he is following the career path of a number of other illustrious bluegrass artists, starting with Bill Emerson who helped found Country Current in 1973, and more recent alumni Wayne Taylor and Frank Solivan.
We caught up with Danny yesterday, and he shared some details about his transition from civilian to military life.
“I first found out about the potential bass position opening for US Navy Band Country Current last Fall, and decided to inquire about an audition. After sending in my audition packet which included live recordings of myself playing, I was invited to a live audition along with the band in DC at the Washington Navy Yard in late January 2014.
This was my first time on a military base, and to say I was nervous is an understatement.
Everything went rather well, and I found out a few weeks later that I had gotten the job. The next step was to ‘swear in,’ get signed up with a Navy recruiter in my hometown, and start to get prepared for boot camp!
I went to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois (Navy boot camp) on June 4 and FINALLY graduated from there on August 1. Wow, that was a good day! Both my parents and my wife Ashley were able to come out to see the graduation ceremony which was nice.
I’m very excited to be playing with one of the best groups in bluegrass music. I’ve been extremely familiar with Country Current growing up, going to bluegrass festivals in the Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey area, and am excited about playing with this power house, high energy band. I’m playing upright bass with the bluegrass band, and electric bass with the country band.
It was a difficult decision to make the change and the move to do this, but I’m extremely thrilled for the future opportunities that lie ahead with the US Navy Band Country Current, getting involved with the music scene in the DC area, and turning the page to the next chapter in my wife (Ashley Stewart) and my life.”
Stewart comes in as a Musician First Class (MU1), an E6 position. Not too shabby!
We’re sure he’ll be a credit to the band, the Navy, and his fellow ETSU grads.