Marc Stone is a great commodifier of blues, R&B and roots music. His highly entertaining and thought provoking Tuesday afternoon blues shows on WWOZ reflect his understanding of how cultural history makes for constantly shifting generic borders as he deftly mixes traditional blues, gospel, R&B and blues rock into a coherent musical continuum.
Stone has put together a number of musical projects, but Trickeration and Rascality, a phrase he borrowed from one of his partners, the late Harry Hypolite, is his first truly representative solo outing. Unlike many other New Orleans musicians, Stone isn’t a virtuoso who lets his natural talent carry the proceedings. He brings his abilities as an arranger and bandleader here and works hand in glove with producer Vasti Jackson.
Stone is an excellent guitarist, especially on lap steel—one of the reasons the only cover on the record, The Band’s “The Shape I’m In,” works. He’s also an outstanding songwriter and a better than average vocalist, but you don’t walk away from this record marveling at those particular skills. These songs are presented in their very best light, and there is not a wasted note or throwaway idea on this riveting album from start to fnish.
You can hear that care on the opening track, “Don’t Let the Bullshit Bring You Down,” a classic T-Bone Walker-style blues with a terrific Mark Mullins arrangement for the Bonerama Horns, who also play on the live track from the Old Point, “Time to Get Paid.” “I’m a Rock” is a stripped-down blues rocker with a New Orleans twist in the rhythm pattern laid down by Raymond Weber on drums, Tony Hall on bass and Ken “Afro” Williams on percussion.
Stone has been playing “Much Too Much” live, and it has evolved from an acoustic solo love song to a marching rhumba, propelled by Kirk Joseph’s swinging sousaphone and perfectly crafted organ swells from Joe Krown.
Stone has long demonstrated his abilities as a conceptualizer and promoter. It’s nice to hear him finally bring those ideas to bear on his own project.