Allen Stone: The Sideman Speaks

Allen Stone

by Brett Levine, Photo by Beau Gustafson

Allen Stone really tries to stay out of the limelight. This may seem unusual for a professional musician, but Stone is the kind of guy who really just wants to make good music. “I get the most satisfaction from playing with other musicians who enjoy getting into a groove and making sure everything is working,” he says with a smile.
Stone, who is currently completing a Master’s degree in music, with an emphasis on jazz arranging, has been playing since he was a child. “I started playing the trombone,” he remarks, “and then began focusing on the guitar when I got to high school. By the time I was a freshman,” he continues, “I knew I wanted to be a professional musician.” Stylistically, Stone started playing rock, but then branched out. “I didn’t even think about playing jazz until I got to college,” Stone observes, “but then I heard Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and I was hooked.”
His desire to pursue music as a career led to Stone completing a degree in Music Technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and this is where he began to focus more on what he terms the ‘behind the scenes’ process. “I’ve always enjoyed watching an album come together,” Stone smiles, “so I explored every aspect of production.” He took a job at a local production facility, and has worked on projects for Downright, Through the Sparks and Eric Essix. In the studio he works to find the right balance between a band’s live sound and their studio style.  “A lot of bands tighten up in the studio,” he explains, “so it’s always a challenge and a dialogue to help them achieve the result that best reflects how a band plays.”
He also recognizes that his engineering skills provide him with a stronger foundation for a longer career in the music business. “There is no profession in music that is steady,” he notes, “so I really wanted to be able to do a lot of things.”
Stone understands the role of a session musician, and it is one he is very comfortable having. “I try to be a diverse player,” he says. This has led to him playing with the Chad Fisher Group, Fisher Green, the Hunter Lawley Band, Come Sunday, which is a jazz trio, and other groups, both live and in the studio. “I simply take the approach that I’ll be the most prepared musician I can be,” he remarks. “I also remember,” he says quietly, “that you are never bigger than the band you are playing in.”
His schedule can be grueling, particularly with the Hunter Lawley Band.  “We have a reputation as a reliable party band,” Stone laughs, “so we get booked all over the place.” His musical diversity can also mean that he is playing a set with his jazz group one night and rocking a party in another city with someone else the next.
For now, Stone is simply continuing to play as much as possible, to do studio engineering, to teach guitar and to continue to develop and diversify.  “In the end,” he smiles, “the most fun is simply having the conversation, and having a good gig.”

One Response to “Allen Stone: The Sideman Speaks”

  1. Julie Stone says:

    This article needs a sequel. Allen’s career has certainly taken some twists and turns since this one was written.

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