Up-and-coming country artist to perform at WV Hot Dog Festival
With a song called, “100 Proof Moonshine,” your tour has gotta roll through West Virginia where rumor has it that shine still drips like water in the mountains.
Armed with his first single, “100 Proof Moonshine, “ off of his EP “Honky Tonk Superstar,” up-and-coming country artist, Phoenix Stone is set for a two-day run through the Mountain State.
A native Floridian whose lead-off single landed in the Top 50 on the Billboard charts, Stone plays the Boone County Fair tonight, July 26, and at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27, plans to rock out the stage at the 9th annual West Virginia Hot Dog Festival at Pullman Square.
With the music video of his single, “100 Proof Moonshine” in rotation on CMT, GAC, MTV, VH1 and TCN, and fresh off of two critically-acclaimed sold-out shows at CMA Music Fest, Stone is out to tattoo his name on the country scene one raucous live show at a time.
Blessed with a six-octave range, a honed skill set of song writing, a lifetime of performing and rugged good looks, Stone more than has the game to do so — but has a little boy band baggage to shuck.
Like Pete Best was to The Beatles, Stone was a founding member, singer and former co-manager of the multi-platinum selling band the Backstreet Boys and co-founder/shareholder of Backstreet Boys Inc., before he split to go solo.
Stone began his career at age 12 as a series regular on Nickelodeon’s “Welcome Freshman” and as a special guest on “Clarissa Explains It All.” Soon, Mel Lewinter signed him to Universal Records, where he soon had a hit single. After signing with Warner/Chappell Nashville, Stone went on to produce and work with numerous well-known acts from the legendary Art Garfunkel to the Backstreet Boys has toured worldwide with acts ranging from Britney Spears to Pink and Christina Aguilera.
Stone, who called himself a true showbiz kid, said that while he notched up a publishing deal in Nashville, he kept striking out when it came to securing a record deal to be a performer.
When the New York City pop life called, Stone said that even though he grew up in a household that was wall-to-wall country, he jumped at the chance to pursue his music further.
“They thought I was too young to be a country artist back in 1999, so it was a no brainer when they gave me a really great deal and put a lot of money in front of me and said make a pop record,” Stone said. “I was trying to find my way in music and here was this big check from Universal and I was getting to tour all over and be on the road with Christina and Beyonce.”
Interestingly, and as the Backstreet Boys began to get huge, Stone opted out of the cookie-cutter boy band scene and put out his own record for Universal, telling Salon back in 2000 that although he thought it was really great, he didn’t want to get branded and run the risk of not being able to break out of that.
Stone said that Nashville, the ever-burgeoning music city that’s now home to many a national rocker (see Jack White and The Black Keys) and musicians of all stripes, has welcomed his musical ventures with open arms.
He’s co-founder of Stonehall Records, and is producing bands for his own joint venture label with Columbia Records/ Stonehall Records, EMI/ Stonehall Records, and Sony Japan/ Stonehall Records.
“Nashville is great, and I love being here because there’s so much music here,” said Stone, who grew up listening to Outlaw country like Waylon, Willie, Hank, Jr., and all that 1990s country like Garth Brooks.
Stone found his way back to the country scene a few years ago when legendary TV producer Norman Lear commissioned him to cut the inspirational charity single, “Proud to Be (Born Again American)” that was produced by country hit-maker James Stroud.
That track reached No. 11 on the Country/Christian charts with Stone donating 100 percent of the proceeds to American veterans and the non-profit Declare Yourself.
“That was sort of my entree back into it and into writing songs that were real to my life,” Stone said.
In fact, it was a series of Nashville parties that birthed several of the songs off of the Stone EP, “Honky Tonk Superstar.”
“I always have these parties and hang out and drink a lot and play guitar and piano, and a buddy of mine from Los Angeles was playing rock and riffs that he never thought was country and he came over, and I said ‘keep playing that over and over and right there.’ We wrote ‘Honky Tonk Superstar,’ and we just started writing, and he’s joined the band.”
Add to that a multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo and mandolin, a couple female back-up singers and a rhythm section, and Stone said they’ve been out, having fun, rocking hard and trying to leave a trail of great impressions.
And along the way, cracking more than a few pre-conceived notions about Stone’s musical past and his place in country music.
From the CMA Fest, writer Jeff Kurtis wrote that he was “not only proved wrong but made into a fan.”
“That’s been cool because I think people do have a pre-conceived notion of me because of the journey,” said Stone, who was named one of Nashville Lifestyle’s “25 Most Beautiful People of Nashville 2012” alongside Lisa Marie Presley and CMT’s Cody Alan. “I started a band that was super successful and this company, and I had came to Nashville to try and do it but they weren’t having any of it. So they were like ‘so here’s this big jet, you want to come out and tour the world,’ and I said ‘hell yeah I do.’ Now, it’s exciting for me to play the music I like and to win over critics who will come to the show with a notion and leave like ‘wow, I really like that.’”