Marc Stone, Live at Tipitina’s (Independent)

Stripping his sound down to the basics—his voice, his guitar and his trusty slide—Marc Stone’s latest release, which was recorded at Tipitina’s back in May 2018, is a strong statement and a timely testimonial to the blues. Featuring an older tune from his first album, a few choice covers, and one of his most recent original songs, Stone presents the album as if you were hanging on his front porch with a bottle of whiskey by your side.

Best known as a versatile blues guitarist and an erudite programmer on WWOZ, Stone is not as well known for his remarkably emotive singing voice. That should change with this record. From the opening cut, an up-tempo, foot-stomping version of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” he fully inhabits every song.

When the album closes (after a heartfelt tribute to OffBeat writer John Swenson) with Stone’s latest single, “Digitized,” the listener has been through a journey into the soul of a stellar performer who has matured right before our eyes.

In the middle of the album is a cut, “Pimpin’ Green,” which showcases Stone’s deft touch on the slide guitar. As he tells the story of a road trip to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, you can feel the wheels of the car gliding along, as well as the longing in the heart of the protagonist.

Live albums belong to a special breed. Unbeknownst to the average listener, many of our favorites feature parts that were re-recorded or overdubbed on the down low. On this effort, however, you get the real deal, complete with vocal asides and audience shout outs, all of which were expertly mixed and mastered by Matt Troja. Pick this record up now.