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Band Review

Stone Pony Band
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Band Review

This Saturday I saw the Stone Pony Band perform one set at the Gold Coin, located in Cleveland Heights. I arrived at 10 PM and found a crowded bar, standing room only. The band was still putting the final touches on the sound system. The door monitor did not let anyone escape the $5 cover.

The Gold Coin is divided into two sections, a large rectangular bar in one section, a seating area with booths and tables in the other. The entire seating area was used for the band. A ramp that goes down to the booth area divided the makeshift stage in to left, center and right sections. On the left were the bass, drums, guitar and keys; on the right were the horns: trombone, trumpet, and sax; in the center was the lead vocalist. The left area of the stage was rather crowded with the keyboard in the corner, behind the guitar player who was already hidden to the far left behind a partition.

Despite their cramped quarters, the guitar, bass, brass, and vocalist all used wireless gear which gave them great mobility, something they used to their advantage while engaging the crowd. On their very first number both the lead singer, Kelly Derrick, and bassist, Vic Manfredi, found themselves engaging the crowd one on one, moving around the bar singing and playing to fans. While Kelly found various ladies to sing to, Vic danced and boogied for everyone. Over time the other wireless players moved into the spot light, but none quite so bold as these two characters.

Overall the sound was good. The woman who mixed them was not real familiar with their material, but she was able to compensate adequately for the various solos across the nine musicians. If I had to characterize there sound critically, I would have to say that it was missing the lower midrange which made the vocal somewhat tinny and took all the punch out of the bass and drums. This seemed to be a limitation of the PA they were using, a system quite scaled down from their norm (so I was told). One thing was for certain, the featured musician dominated the sound, weather it was the singer, sax player, or guitar, you could hear them clearly; the rest of the band maintained a reasonable volume level that permitted conversation with out having to shout in each others ear.

The bass player played a dark walnut colored wood grain Alembic bass (there were no LED position markers on this one) through and Ampeg BA-210 that he placed on a riser to get it off the floor. I’m not sure why he raised unless it was to bring it closer to his ears as a monitor. The guitar player, Doug Powell, used a silver Fender Stratocaster, Anniversary edition through what appeared to be a Flextone, Line 6 Amplifier. Seeing that was not a bona fide band reviewer for the Plain Dealer, I was not granted the necessary interviews to ascertain the details. Jim Powell, the keyboard player used a Kurzweil PC88; I have no clue what he used for amplification. I also could not identify Kevin Morgan’s, drums. He did however have a custom made decal or painting on the front of the kick, which added a nice touch to the band stage presence. Since I have very little experience with brass and woodwinds, I did not attempt to identify them.

While the bands overall musical abilities are very good, the real strength of their performance is outstanding stage presence and the ability to engage the crowd. From the moment the performance started, there was continuous interaction with the crowd and lots of emotion expressed in both the vocals and the body language of all the band members. There definitely was some magic in their presence, it was not in their style or execution, both if which were very good, but in their passion.

After the first set I introduced my self to the lead singer and bassist (the only one’s whose attention I could get). They had just listened to our demo CD prior to the gig. They seemed very excited about the Riverside gig and felt we would be performing to a sell-out crowd of about 700. Since there was no place to park my tired @$$ and I had accomplished my mission, I headed home.