Trey Stone and the Ringers at Trolley Stop


Trey Stone and the Ringers (Left to Right) Jason Swann, Joahn Dubuc, Brian Hoeflich, Trey Stone, Rich Reuter, Eric Knorr, Erich Reith, and Leo Smith

By Tim Smith

True to their motto “Rock and roll music, played by men in black shirts”, Trey Stone and the Ringers have been brandishing their eclectic mix of original rock music and pop standards since 2013. Their next local stop will be at The Trolley Stop on January 19. 

The current line-up is Trey Stone (keyboards and vocals), Ben Cooper (bass), Brian Hoeflich (drums and vocals), John Dubuc (guitar and vocals), Michael Cerrone (guitar and vocals), Erich Reith (percussion), Jason Swann (saxophone), Eric Knorr (trumpet), and Gary D. King (trombone). According to leader Trey Stone, the band was formed in a sort of piecemeal fashion.

“The band began when I first moved to Dayton several years ago,” he says. “The first music I played here was at the musician’s co-op at Canal Street Tavern when it was still open. I worked with John Dubuc, who is just absolutely the best songwriter around here in my opinion, and we started doing shows together, just the two of us. Then we added Brian Hoeflich and Leo Smith. That was kind of the beginning of the band. From there, we started playing shows at Canal Street, Trolley Stop, Yellow Cab, and on the air at WYSO radio. Along the way, we just started snowballing and gathering musicians until we’re now this nine-piece band.”

The inclusion of three horns in the ensemble is reminiscent of the legendary band Chicago, an influence that Stone acknowledges.

“We’ve got a couple of guys in the horn section that are always pushing us to do some Chicago stuff, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet,” he says. “We’re more like what Otis Redding’s band sounded like, not Chicago, which is a more uptown sound. For a long time, we didn’t have a horn section, and I always wanted one. When we first added the horns and I listened to some recordings I made during rehearsal, it was an emotional experience for me because it added more depth to our sound. It’s empowering to play in a band with that much musical force behind you.”

The band plays mostly club dates around Dayton, but they have ventured outside the city limits on occasion. Their out of town appearances have included the Miami Valley Music Festival in Troy, and several appearances at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center. Their songbook is a mix of new and classic material.

“We do about half and half, covers and original music,” Stone says. “I’ve always loved the great piano players from New Orleans, like Dr. John. I had that kind of sound in mind, sort of a New Orleans, bluesy, rootsy sound. In the covers we choose, we cover a lot of Alan Toussaint, some Dr. John, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Reed, the list goes on and on. It all comes down to ‘Does it fit within our general framework of rock and roll and its many variations, like funk, soul, and pop music?’ Those are our big influences.”

Stone notes that although he provides the bulk of the band’s original compositions, there’s a collaborative spirit during rehearsals.

“I’ll write a song, then play it for the guys and if they like it, we’ll do it,” he says. “Generally, when I bring a tune to rehearsal, I’ll have it pretty well worked out. We are very collaborative in rehearsal. We foster an environment where everyone can add something to make it better. All of them are going to have ideas that are relevant to what’s going on. We always listen to every idea and come to a decision. There’s never any animosity because every idea they bring up will be considered.”

Stone previously worked as the musical director for the the famed Second City improv group in Chicago. Stone remains involved with them, including an upcoming tour with Jim Belushi and The Board of Comedy.

“That’s one of my claims to fame, and I’m very proud of it,” he says. “I moved to Dayton several years ago to expand my musical horizons. Second City was a great experience and it’s an American institution, but for me to be associated with a group of guys like the Ringers is great. I’m so happy to be in Dayton where there are a lot of high-quality musicians and venues. I’m very proud to play with all these guys.”

The group’s combined skills and flexibility become a necessity when they perform.

“I’ve got a reputation in the band where the guys will say ‘Hey, I’ll bet Trey is gonna make us play a song we’ve never played before’,” he says. “Because everybody in the band is so great, it’s not hard to do that. We played at a buddy’s wedding last year, and I misheard him when he told me one of the songs he wanted, and we planned the wrong song. It was for their first dance, and we had to learn the song the night before. All of the songs are nailed down when we take the stage. We’re not a jam band, but there are some songs where people are able to stretch out and take a solo. Some of our stuff is buttoned down when it comes to arrangements, but some of it is more flexible.”

The Ringers clearly enjoy what they do, and Stone hopes that audiences share their spirit.

“For one thing, we want people to have a good time,” Stone says. “We like to have fun on stage, and I guess we write songs and we choose covers that are fun to do. Our sound is an older sound, like ‘60s pop and rootsy rock and roll. My hope is that people who don’t listen to that type of music come away understanding the influence this music has on what music is today. We do a cover of ‘Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes.’ The most popular version was by a group called Edison Lighthouse, but I stumbled across a Wayne Newton version that I wanted to cover. We do it because I find so much redeeming quality in it. We really try to project our love for the music we’re playing and we hope that the audience gets into it.”

Stone feels that relocating to the Miami Valley to flex his musical muscles was a good decision. 

“Dayton has something really special in the arts scene,” he says. “There are many musicians doing great things here. Audiences here are very interested in the arts, and I’m glad they come out to hear us. I’m glad to see that the wealth of talent in this area isn’t wasted. It’s really incredible. I was playing at the Trolley Stop recently with a pick-up group. I walked outside on one of our breaks, and I could hear bands playing from Dublin Pub, Tumbleweed Connection, you name it. You couldn’t find that concentration of music in Chicago. It feels like New Orleans on a night like that. Who would’ve thought you’d find that in Dayton, Ohio?”

Trey Stone and the Ringers will perform at The Trolley Stop, 530 East Fifth St., Dayton on Jan. 19 from 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit TrolleyStopDayton.com or call 937.461.1101. More information about Trey Stone and the Ringers can be found at           Facebook.com/TreyStoneAndTheRingers

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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