Previewing the appearance of the Stone Mountain Sinners at The Devizes Ameripolitan Club on March 9th today; Americana meets homegrown talent.
It’s been a couple of years since I first met country music aficionado Dean Czerwionka at the Conservative Club during one of his events. Back then he called it Devizes Country Music Club, today it’s the Ameripolitan Club. The name change, I deduce, is a bid to amend preconceived ideas of what country music is about, similarly was the angle of the article.
If you go running off with ideas of line-dancing and achy-breaky hearts you’re only skimming a stereotypical surface, for Dean is keen to promote bands which break this pigeonhole. Leaning at the bar in his Stetson, I recall the tête-à-tête moving onto the notion both media and other country clubs thrive on the arrival of US touring bands, when a homegrown scene is perhaps equally as poignant.
On following this advice, I confess I’ve cringed at some, and tumbleweeds passed by, where there’s cliché subject matter of Americana; homages to the gold rush, box-cars and jumping railroads yodel “pack it in, you’re from Slough!” But song’s subject matter of one band Dean tipped me to, The Stone Mountain Sinners, are adequately general and could be applied to either home or the Harpeth River. While their melodies nod to Nashville, there’s hints of English blues harmonies and strokes of a young Rod Stewart.
Well-worn territory perhaps, where UK country music caresses it’s rock n roll offspring, but Worcester’s Stone Mountain Sinners do it with panache and professionalism. It’s toe-tapping goodness with familiarity aplenty to woe those with only a passing interest in the genre, while still appeasing devotees. Subsequently, under a trail of blazing reviews, their debut album, Tones of Home is currently teetering at #5 on the iTunes Country Chart, since it’s October release.
Working as a touring guitar tech, it was in the Californian desert, beside the 29 Palms Highway on a US tour, where Neil Ivison had his epiphany to return to the UK to labour on new music, inspired by the regular jaunts to the southern States. So even if there’s a heap of Americana in the sound, it’s justified.
And what’s in a name I asked Neil, being Stone Mountain is a Georgia city and gateway to Stone Mountain Park, is there a connection? Evidence that the US influence is not exclusively the theme in his answer, “no connection to Georgia, we basically wrote a load of words down and then pieced them together until we came up with something that sounded good!”
After the conclusion of his first band, Neil found similar ground to Sarah Warren’s social media posts of her culminating group. One email was all it took before they were collaborating, bringing in Sarah’s musical cohort, and Nick Lyndon.
“What was immediately striking was that our voices complimented each other so well,” Sarah explains, “we both have strong vocals but we each have our own tonality, so it’s not like we are battling each other for space in a song.” Indeed, it works, try this video if you don’t trust my word on it!
They headhunted pianist Roger Roberts, bassist Adam Hood and drummer Duke Delight and formed Stone Mountain Sinners, attracting Robert Plant who pitched up to check them out after only their second gig. Straight into the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouth they marched, a year ago, to record the debut album with The Waterboys, Pogues and Hawkwind producer, Paul Cobbold.
They’ll appear at the Devizes Conservative Club on Saturday March 9th with trusty Devizes favourite Jamie R Hawkins as support. Tickets online here, at £7. Not their first appearance in town, but they’re given the red-carpet treatment with an exclusive sample performance at Vinyl Realm that afternoon, after a morning stint with Sue Davies on BBC Wiltshire from 11am.
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