By Morgan James
This week I caught up with Scott E Stone, lead vocalist and harmonica player for the esteemed blues band The Mighty Delta-Tones. Those familiar with blues music understand that one of the essential elements is the ability to convey raw emotion sincerely to its audience. The genre may lack the complexity of jazz or the prepense of classical; but good blues music connects the audience. The Mighty Delta-Tones have been doing that since their inception in 2005. Stone has held a variety of jobs in his music career and has not only adapted to the changing times and technology but continues to innovate within them. Friend and local musician Jim Holiday describes Stone simply as “One of the good guys in music,” and I couldn’t help but feel the same way after our interview.
MJ: Please share about yourself, as you have led an interesting life.
SS: “My life has always been driven by an inner need to create, build, and invent. Even now, I try to never end a day without testing a new idea or bridging an imagined gap. My grandfather had a little woodshop in his basement that fascinated me as a kid. It was a kind of a dream world for me that inspired me to build and create. My grandmother was an exceptional artist, and she saw some promise in me. She hired an art teacher for me in 4th grade for private lessons. It went well at first but I had an exceptionally hard time concentrating. I was either wired to the gills, (which was later attributed to Attention Deficit Disorder) or about to fall asleep due to the medication I took for my Hay Fever. My life has always been a parallel path of woodworking and music; but ultimately it was my desire to play music that gave me the ability to focus on an idea or song and get it done.”
MJ: What sparked your interest in music as a kid?
SS: “When I was 12 years old, I heard a band on the radio called The Rolling Stones and it was all over for me. With a dynamic harmonica, great committed vocals, sweet guitars and a driving bass and drums, I rushed to get there first album and wore it out. It wasn’t until later that I realized almost all of that album had been written by or inspired by black American artists. At that point, I made it my quest to try and track down and listen to all of the great music that had been put out by the artists that had inspired that album.”
MJ: Who has influenced your style of harmonica and singing?
SS: “Some of my main harp influences are Mick Jagger, Paul Butterfield, Kim Wison and Little Walter. I consider Greg Allman to be my first real vocal teacher as I learned to sing the new blues from their first albums. Other influences include a local Kansas City guy named Mike Finnegen with a throaty growly blues voice and Paul Butterfield.”
MJ: What are some of the ways you managed to combine your passion for music and woodworking to make a living?
SS: “By the late 70’s I had established a small construction company called Rollin’ Stone Construction. With an education in interior design, I helped a friend design and build a successful night club. When we finished it, he told me he needed a jock to spin records and since I had a very large collection of records, I took the job. God it was fun; no real boss, free drinks and food. I was in heaven. I ended up getting another request to build the same kind of dance club again and ultimately built 8 of them. Over the years I learned how to run, maintain and service all of the sound, lighting and power equipment while also Disc Jockeying and performing with the house band. It was a good 15 year run and my last night club was designed for Buddy Greco locally.”
MJ: How did you ultimately end up in The Mighty Delta-Tones?
SS: “I was performing in various bands after my construction career. We formed The Mighty Delta-Tones in 2005 when my band mates and I had hit the wall playing classic rock covers. It just was not giving back anymore. So we broke it down to a basic 3 piece ensemble: blues guitar, bass and harp to get back to the root of music that had inspired me as a kid. We performed hard blues from Son House, Bukka White and others of that period, as simple as we could. Slowly, the love was coming back to playing! We eventually added another guitar player and drummer and became a 5 piece blues band.”
MJ: I’ve heard there are some new additions to the band. Who are they and what are their backgrounds?
SS: “The New Mighty Delta-Tones line-up is as follows; Paul Moser on guitar and vocals, Mike Pedersen on slide guitar, Pat Ellett on bass guitar, Brian Jeffers on drums and percussion, and myself on lead vocals and harp.”
MJ: Where can readers see your shows?
SS: “We are currently booked at The Tack Room Tavern Nov. 12 and Nov. 25 and will be playing at the Date Festival on the main stage in February 2017.”
MJ: Any advice for newer musicians that you would like to pass on?
SS: “To the young guys and gals getting started, be what you are. Dig in and be true to what you believe. Be influenced by all around you, but forge your own path.”
(Photos By Jim Holiday)