By Pete Clemons
Nowadays, the music business is a very strange and fickle place. At one end of the spectrum you have the artists who gain instant, but relatively, short lived success that comes via the TV reality programs. And at the other end of the scale you have bands that plod on for many years, ploughing a furrow of their own, slowly growing and building a solid fan base.
And although this band has received little radio play or mainstream exposure, a Warwickshire based band have followed the latter path. And it was a path that the band was brave enough to take as they always believed it was the right one for them to take.
And now it seems that the courage of their convictions is beginning to bear fruit. After great dedication and a lot of hard work, Stone Foundation have, at long last, are crossing the brow of that hill. And the music world is beginning to take notice.
2017 has so far proved to be an incredible year for Stone Foundation. Their latest album, the critically acclaimed ‘Street Rituals’, was released during March. It comes two years on from the equally impressive ‘A Life Unlimited’.
Since the release of ‘Street Rituals’ the band have a sold out gig at the Islington Assembly. Their single, ‘Back in the Game’ has topped the UK vinyl singles chart. The band has paid a return visit performed concerts in Japan. They are due to tour for the first time in Ireland. And a date at Glastonbury awaits them.
There is a song on the ‘Street Rituals’ album titled ‘Love Revisited’. And when I first heard that track I distinctly remember thinking, how fitting a title it was. For me it kind of summed up the album as a whole. It was as if a whole style of music, that you rarely hear nowadays, was being completely revisited. And the music listening public at large seem to be enjoying it also.
Despite the song writing revolving around social issues it still manages to remain an optimistic listen.
The production talents of Paul Weller are indelibly stamped all over this album. He even performs on a track. However, and with all due respect to Paul, the success of this record is down to some strong song writing. It is this that has elevated Stone Foundation to the next level.
The album incorporates a diversity of musical styles. As with past Stone Foundation albums there is definitely a soulful direction with this music. But, to these ears at least, it also emphasizes more funk and R ‘n’ B influences than previously heard.
The band, formed at least a dozen years ago, comprises founder members Neil Jones (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Neil Sheasby (bass). In addition, and performing on the latest album, you have (deep breath) Phillip K. Ford (drums), Ian Arnold (Hammond organ, piano), Rob Newton (percussion), Paul Speare (baritone sax, tenor sax and flute), Gary Rollins (tenor saxophone, flute), Dave Boraston (trumpet and flugelhorn), Gareth John (trumpet), Anthony Gaylard (alto sax), Adam Stevens (baritone sax) and many others.
During their existence, Stone Foundation has regularly performed under their own steam, in small clubs. They have also being invited to support major bands, on the larger arena tours.
It has been in those smaller venues where I have seen the band several times. Always immaculately turned out they never fail to create a buzz. These foundations are well on the rise.