Thanks to Ona Stewart, guitarist and songwriter for Santa Cruz bluegrass/Americana band The Naked Bootleggers, you might have a secret life you don’t know about. “When I see somebody on the street, I always make up a story,” Stewart says with a chuckle. “My wife laughs at me because I’m constantly saying, ‘Look at that couple. They’ve only been together for a week.’ I just try to make things up in my head.”
While fictional stories aren’t necessarily typical of the band’s lyrical content, Stewart’s humor does give you a sense of how he and his bandmates approach songwriting. Often The Naked Bootleggers music is about feeling good and having fun, but Stewart and the gang can be serious, too. “The last song I wrote was about the everyday man and the sacrifices he makes to keep his family safe, strong and together,” Stewart says. “He may have had dreams of his own, like wanting to play music or entertain people, but he had to give ’em up so he could put food on the table. That song isn’t about me, but I can relate to it. I would make that sacrifice for my family if I had to.” The Naked Bootleggers play a wide range of contemporary and old-timey American roots music, all of which fans will have the opportunity to hear when the band opens for North Lake Tahoe’s alt-country outfit, Dead Winter Carpenters, on Friday, April 19 at Don Quixote’s, and again when it releases its next two albums this year. Listeners can expect a mixture of organic sounds—including banjos, washboard, mandolin, fiddle and harmonica—heartfelt crooning and lyrics that express an appreciation for the little things in life. “I have a song called, ‘My Neighbors Ain’t So Nice, But They Sure Do Smell So Fine,’” Stewart says with a laugh. “So I write a lot of fun songs.”
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, April 19. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $10. 479-1854.