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Artist Spotlight: Allen Stone

Washington native Allen Stone (born in the Northeastern town of Chewelah) brings soul, funk, and style to the 2013 Bumbershoot lineup. Stone kicked off the 2013 Festival activities with two vintage, prom-themed lineup announcement parties at The Crocodile in May, and returns with his performance on the TuneIn Stage on Monday, September 2.

A preacher’s son, Stone grew up singing in church, and some remnants of that gospel background can be heard both in the high notes as well as in the message of his songs: his self-titled sophomore album tackles not only love (“Say So,” “The Wind,” “Your Eyes”), but also the distractions to be found through social media (“Contact High”), as well as frustrations with politicians (“Unaware”). As secular music was forbidden in his childhood home, he secretly began listening to soul music as a teenager, meaning much of his musical education was self-taught. After spending a year at Moody Bible College in Spokane, he broke with the church and eventually moved to Seattle to put a band together.

The near-unanimous first impression of Stone is that he doesn’t look the part—his dress code is half-hippie, half-Northwest thrift shopper, and nothing like his suit-and-tie ancestors of soul’s past. He manages to simultaneously rock blonde surfer locks, his signature coke bottle glasses, and a Sonics jersey and pull off the look completely. But one note out of Stone’s mouth usually quells any unrest about his appearance and it becomes clear that the man has done his homework, knows how to sing, and can work a crowd. Comparisons to soul greats like Stevie Wonder, a personal hero to Stone, run rampant. His performances at “Prombershoot” included flawless covers of Wonder, as well as Al Green, and a soulful spin on Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”. While several of his tracks feature a full band complete with horn section, it’s clear that he doesn’t need much to carry his voice; and a performance “Live From His Mother’s Living Room” sounds just as good as catching him at a club:

While Allen Stone has been touring steadily over the past few years, promoting his first album, Last to Speak, as well as his self-titled 2012 release, he still remains ingrained in Washington and particularly in Seattle. The virtual stamp of approval for Seattle musicians, Stone was asked by Macklemore to sing on his award-winning album The Heist, on a track entitled “Neon Cathedral.” It’s a beautiful blend of Ryan Lewis’ beats, Macklemore’s verses, and Stone’s crooning that carries the hook. After performing for the first time in 2011, Stone returns to Bumbershoot with a performance on Monday, September 2 on the TuneIn Stage.