Americana/Indie-Country duo Blue Cactus supplements their twang with soaring, space-rock-inspired guitars, while rich harmonies keep their tunes grounded in traditional American Roots. Based out of Chapel Hill, NC, Blue Cactus is led by long-time collaborators Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, who create songs that range from gritty Honky Tonk to tender, heartbreaking balladry.
Their 2017 self-titled debut album has given life to the future of country music and received praise from critics across the nation for its poignant songwriting, acute sensibility and expansive interpretation of alt-country. Seamlessly bridging the Bakersfield and Countrypolitan sounds with elements of modern Americana, the record encompasses everything that made country music matter.
In their eighth year of making music together, Arnez and Stewart have become a nimble creative unit, adept at exploring heartache and hope with time-tested Honky Tonk humor. They have toured throughout the US, sharing the stage with with the likes of The War & Treaty, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Junior Brown and Town Mountain. Blue Cactus conjures a sound that will take you on a familiar journey into uncharted country, expanding tropes and breathing hope into the genre's limitless possibilities.
Photo by Alex Boerner
How the West Was Worn sits among the books on the coffee table of Steph Stewart's small, mid-century Chapel Hill apartment. The place has aged to a state of well-worn comfort, and Stewart's additions, such as the vintage guitars that hang on one wall, add to its character.
Inside the book, the relationship of age to glitz is inverted. How the West Was Worn demonstrates how western wear has gone from practical and hand-hewn trail garb to the flashy cowboy chic of the Nudie suits popularized by country singer Porter Wagoner. If they had their way, Stewart and her partner, Mario Arnez, would own half the outfits in this book.
- Corbie Hill
INDY WEEK, February 27, 2017