Growing up I had no use for an alarm clock. My father’s stereo acted as a substitute.
Every morning rather than awaking to the ring of harsh consecutive beeps, I would get in the groove with Sly & the Family Stone or force myself to wake up so I could finish a soulful Dusty Springfield lyric or leap up because my heart pained to feel love the way Etta James understood it.
Thanks to my father’s obsession with R&B/soul, my childhood, adolescence and adulthood have been shaped by music. Whether I feel happy, depressed, confused, in the mood to dance, show someone an epic song, choose my favorite song, clean my house, relax, or really do anything worthwhile, my internal jukebox always yearns for a little old school R&B.
There is no problem I cannot solve by listening to and contemplating the lyrics in a soul tune.
As tradition, though I’m not sure it is a conscious tradition of his, my father gives me his latest favorite album whenever a gift is in order. This Christmas, the artist of choice was Allen Stone.
I had never heard of him, many still have yet to hear of him because he is an ‘up and coming’ young musician from the middle of nowhere in Washington state (I can say that because being from Washington and I have never heard of Chewelah).
Within seconds of plugging him in, I fell head over heels. Each song that flowed into my ears drew me in a little farther, each lyric resonated deeper and each beat made me wiggle my hips a little groovier.
Allen Stone’s two LPs were played on repeat for every day for about two months. I am not embarassed to say this is not an exaggeration.
As a self proclaimed tough girl, I admit (with slight embarrassment), one thing that draws me to tears is truly great live music.
This past week I drove one and a half hours to a hole in the wall venue in Breckenridge and experienced just that and it came in the most peculiar looking package.
Allen Stone, though he draws his sound from greats like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, looks exactly the opposite from what I would have pictured.
Shoulder-length, messy, blonde strands fall to his shoulders under a hip black hat. Oversized, thick, square, orange glasses overtake most of his face. A vintage wardrobe complete with brown moccasins, a native inspired wool sweater and worn out denim cover his body.
My eye brows raised skeptically as he prepared for his first song. No imperfections were hidden from my sight, as I situated my self in the front row.
How could the smoothest most soulful voice I had heard in a while look like such an odd hipster?
All doubts flew out the window as he began to sing what he referred to as “greasy soul” (he doesn’t like how soul has to be sung in suits and look proper). Don’t judge a book by its cover, I guess.
New age R&B/soul twisted with pop influences flowed from his lips like he had been singing for years. His lyrics are original and refreshing as they combine laid-back values with political motivations.
Watching him groove and jive to each of his songs made me feel happier and more relaxed than I’ve been in ages.
He is a natural born performer and as so, knew how to get the crowd grooving. I danced, celebrated his enthusiasm and may or may not have teared up a little.
Clearly, I cannot hide my extreme bias towards Allen Stone.
Not only is he my newest favorite musician but also because I got the chance to spend some time with him after the show.
He remained focused and seemed genuinely interested in what my friends and I were saying. Not once did he rush us and only stepped away when he was alerted it was time to pack up.
From the brief but honest encounter, I can say he is a down, easy-going and positive guy to be around who you can tell believes completely in the music he is singing.
So yes, I call it ‘getting stoned’ because each of us who attended the show were high on Allen for days. We sang lyrics to his songs subconsciously, could not control the shaking of our hips as they yearned to jive as they did at the concert and smiles seemed to be eternally glued to our faces. Needless to say, next time Allen Stone is in town we will be front row.
I consider myself to be well versed in the area of music and I think you should listen when I say to check him out. He assured my friends and I that he would be back in Colorado soon, as he would be touring for the rest of his life.
If you are still skeptical, check out the videos below or visit his website to stream his latest album.
Allen on Conan singing Unaware:
Allen singing Contact High:
In a more intimate setting singing Vibe with Ya:
Hayley is studying journalism, politics and international media at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In between juggling school and various jobs, she makes time to snowboard, travel, write and craft. She surrounds herself with people that motivate and embrace her as she strives to make a difference in anyway she can. Follow her on twitter.