At just 24, US soul sensation Allen Stone is making his mark. This Seattle songwriter talks about mobile phones and social networks; he sings about the clout of the christian right and a culture of greed.
His music reaches back four decades to the late 1960s and early 70s, when songwriters such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers brought introspection and social commentary to soul music. Soul has been in Stone’s soul since this preacher’s son was small.
‘I wasn’t raised with any technical music knowledge,’ says Stone. ‘I didn’t have any singing lessons or music lessons growing up. It was the feeling of music that got me, the rhythm and the pace and even to this day, I think what I enjoy most about the music industry is playing because it’s a congregational atmosphere – we are gathering together for one purpose!’
Unlike his peers, Stone left the pop rock unturned.
‘I want to bring people an experience that they remember. For me it’s good to incorporate as many emotions as I can during the set – whether it’s joy or curiosity or sadness. Making up a set it is about giving people enough canvas to experience something that is individual and particular to that night, and I love it! I make a living throwing parties for people every night! The main goal is that they have fun!’
Stone takes his role as a musician seriously.
‘I feel it is a higher call being a musician. You need to be able to play your instrument; you need to be able to do it live without processors. People are getting away with pressing a button. To me my greatest accomplishment is that when I leave the stage people have had a good time and they experience something that was live and real and unique to that particular audience.
‘We are all narcissistic; songwriters are built on narcissism! But for me my favourite record of all time is What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. I love the topics he chose to sing about – cultural indifferences and injustices; he chose to sing about things that had a little more weight to them than Let’s Get it On.
‘I remember Marvin for Mercy Mercy Mercy rather than Sexual Healing. ’
Stone is a little scathing of the emotional immuring of his home country.
‘America has such a weird culture; it’s such an adolescent country – in a lot of regards the US is like a 12-year-old boy – look at the way we conduct ourselves overseas, the way we exude our sexuality. It’s like the 12- to 13-year-old kid!’
Bluesfest will be Stone’s third trip to Australia. Catch the man that USA Today called ‘pitch perfect powerhouse’, the hippie with soul…
For more about Bluesfest lineup and tix go to bluesfest.com.au.