Trey Stone’s humor-tinged rock at Canal Street
By Tim Anderl
Photo: Trey Stone celebrates the release of Ahead of the Pack at Canal Street Tavern June 22; photo credit: Jennifer Taylor Clarke
For 15 years, Trey Stone’s passion for music and comedy existed in harmony as he served as musical director for Chicago’s The Second City – basically the minor leagues for “Saturday Night Live.” When a job opportunity prompted Stone’s family to move to Dayton, he hit the reset button, began frequenting and performing at Canal Street Tavern’s musician’s co-op and quickly amassed a collection of friends and musical collaborators.
It wasn’t long before he began working on his self-produced “rock ‘n’ roll country blues funk folk and stuff” album, titled Ahead of the Pack. Showcasing a broad range of influences, from Dr. John to Tom Petty and Chuck Berry, the record is poised to make a big splash with local rock ‘n’ roll devotees. Having assembled a remarkable cast of local players, whom he’s dubbed “The Ringers” – including Mike Minarcek of Onceler and Brian Hoeflich (of countless Dayton powerhouse rock acts) on drums, bluesman Noah Wotherspoon and John Dubuc on guitars, and Leo Smith (of the Air Force bands) on bass – Stone laid his tunes down at Dayton’s Cyberteknics Studios. On Saturday, June 22, Stone unveils his opus to the masses during a release show at Canal Street Tavern.
Dayton City Paper had the pleasure of discussing the release and his experiences in our fair city with Stone.
The release show isn’t the first time that you’ll be debuting songs from Ahead of the Pack, is it?
No, I’ve been playing a few of the songs live for the past few months. One song, “Hittin’ The Road,” is a song that we’ve been playing a lot. There is another one, too, called “Things Are Coming Up.” At this show we are going to play a lot of the songs that we haven’t yet played live, so some from column A and some from column B. -Trey Stone
Were any of the songs lost in translation from doing them in the studio to performing them live, or were all of the songs written with the intention of playing them live?
No. When we recorded, I had the structures of the songs all ironed out. I had some pretty good concepts of what I wanted the songs to be like. We didn’t rehearse before we went into the studio. These guys had only heard MP3 versions of me playing these songs on the piano in my living room before we went into the studio. So when we got in there, I gave them ideas of what I wanted things to sound like. But then I also gave them freedom to write parts. I told them, “Don’t hold back, let loose and I’ll pull you back if needed.” And we changed some things along the way. If something was going great, I’d let it go. So, when we went into the studio I only somewhat had the arrangements worked out and the record was a product of that. Live is a completely different thing. For instance, Noah Wotherspoon played guitar on the record, but Noah’s a busy guy and he doesn’t have time to be in another band. So we are doing the live show without a lead guitarist and it has been going great. We would like to have a lead guitar player eventually though. -TS
You’ve amassed quite a little troop of talent from people you’ve encountered here. How does the Dayton talent pool measure up to Chicago where you came from?
Dayton has more than its share of incredible musicians. In fact, I met Mike Minarcek playing in a cover band in Chicago together and he’s from Dayton. He’s a fantastic drummer. Right now I’m playing with Brian Hoeflich, and he’s also a remarkable drummer. John Dubuc, who is typically a songwriter when he’s doing his normal thing, plays guitar and sings backup in this group. I didn’t run into too many guys in Chicago who are better musicians than what you find here in Dayton. Dayton has a great music scene, musicians and audience included. When people come to a show here it is obvious that they really enjoy listening to music. People are doing a good job, having fun and people are willing to come out to experience it and enjoy it. -TS
I have to ask: I noticed on LinkedIn that “sketch comedy” is one of your skillsets. Were there any rap record style skits that you’d planned for Ahead of the Pack?
(Laughter) No, nothing like that. But, for the release party, Justin Howard from the Black Box Improv Theater is going to host the show. I’m putting my connections to good use there. -TS
But that sense of humor leaches into your songwriting doesn’t it?
After 15 years at The Second City and spending such a great deal of my professional life being around hilarious people who think in a certain way and make off the cuff connections that end up being funny, I think that a lot of that seeps into my stuff. And a lot of it starts of that way anyway. There are a lot of songs on the record that are humorous, and it isn’t something that I necessarily do intentionally. It is just a part of me that I can’t shy away from. -TS
Trey Stone and the Ringers perform a CD release concert at Canal Street Tavern, 308 E. First St., on June 22 at 9 pm. Also performing are The Repeating Arms and Tim Pritchard, and the evening will be hosted by Justin Howard of Black Box Improv Theater. For more information, visit reverbnation.com/treystone777.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com.