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MUSIC NOTEBOOK

Still a Believer , John Stewart Keeps Touring, Performing

July 31, 1988|MICHAEL ARKUSH

In 1967, the Monkees made "Daydream Believer" into a huge hit and John Stewart into a rich man.

Stewart wrote the song, which soon became his signature tune. It sold 5 million copies and even inspired a popular remake by Anne Murray in 1980. Two decades after its original release, Stewart continues to appreciate its significance.

"It has kept me alive," he said.

And still performing. Although he hasn't had a hit since 1979's "Gold," he continues to tour much of the year. On Saturday, Stewart, 49, will sing "Daydream Believer" at McCabe's in Santa Monica.

His songs, about love and relationships, are generally optimistic. But Stewart does not shy away from life's more painful realities.

In "Runaway Train," his latest song to be heard on the radio (it is sung by Rosanne Cash), about the dilemma of a relationship clearly out of control, he offers no solution.

Stewart does, however, offer a remedy for what he considers radio's snub of socially conscious folk artists and rock performers. Last year, he established his own record label, the Ship. Stewart says it is geared toward "artists who have something to say, who are writing because of commitment, not to make money."

A former member of the Kingston Trio, Stewart has not had much success lately with new material. His last album, "Punch the Big Guy," was released in November and sold only 25,000 copies. He blames it on poor promotion and marketing.

Does Stewart have another hit left?

"You never know," he said. "No one thought 'Daydream Believer' was going to be a hit."

Stewart will perform at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 and can be obtained at the door.

AMEN: On the same night, Sherman Hemsley--yes, that Sherman Hemsley--will sing at Trancas Restaurant in Malibu. The star of "The Jeffersons" and the sitcom "Amen" will be accompanied by a 16-piece band.

Hemsley does a little of everything: impersonations, skits, soulful ballads. In previous shows, he has ended with the gospel-flavored theme from "Amen."

His show will begin at 10:15 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at the door.

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