Gordon Stone: New Album "Stone's Throw"

Gordon Stone By Andrew Kuzmin

Mike Gordon, of Phish fame, has called Gordon Stone a friend, teacher and an inspiration. He referred to Stone's pedal steel work on the 2003 release, “Inside In,” as the “primary voice on the album.”

He’s been in the music business for 35 years, released countless albums with a multitude of big names artists, toured the country and now, with his latest release, “Stone’s Throw,” at 59, Gordon Stone is beginning to branch out.

World music without the importing

“This will be the best recording I’ve ever made,” Stone told the Burlington Free Press on May 3.

Stone’s new album will be stretching out into the realm of world music, he said.

“African music with pedal steel isn’t new,” Stone said, but this particular album works to take local musicians and expose them outwards to the community, rather than bring musicians in from all corners of the world.

On “Stone’s Throw,” Stone worked live in Trey Anastasio’s famed studio, the Barn, with Senegalese drummers.

“They are guys I met that live in Vermont. We’re using world music by musicians in Vermont,” Stone said.

Included on this new release, incorporating the West African drummers, are a host of different genres. Tracks with a hip-hop feel, some with a rock groove, as well as traditional Senegalese drumming with western instruments. The album will also include a cover of Thelonius Monk’s “Well you Needn’t.”

Diversion from the norm

While Stone isn’t playing with his own band, he keeps busy with a wide array of side projects. Most notably, playing with the fathers of bluegrass, Pine Island, arguably the most recognizable act to come out of Vermont before Phish.

Formed in 1974, Pine Island has been somewhat disbanded for the past few years, playing reunion shows every now and again. The last time the band reunited, in 2003, Stone and Pine Island played to a sold-out crowd at the Flynn Theatre. The day was later declared “Pine Island Day” in Burlington.

On July 12, Stone and Pine Island will be reuniting once again for the CD release party for Big Heavy World’s latest release, “Thrufters and Throughstones: The Music of Vermont’s First 400 Years,” in connection with the Celebrate Champlain festival. Pine Island will also be featured on the release with their track “Like a Thief.” “It's fun playing old tunes,” Stone said. “It’s a diversion from what my primary focus is, and right now that’s the album (Stone’s Throw).”

Included in Stone’s array side projects are his work in Al and the Transamericans, formed by moe. guitarist Al Schnier, Mike Gordon’s “Inside In” tour and even a full- length movie score for the film “Mud Season.”

“Its thanks to Big Heavy World that I got [Mud Season],” Stone said.

Los Angles film makers contacted Big Heavy World while looking for the music for their new movie, and were recommended to check out Gordon Stone. They liked what they heard, and contacted Stone to write the full score.

The first 365 years missed out

With the release of “Thrufters” looking back at the 400 years of Vermont music, the last 35 have not been without Gordon Stone, Jennifer Harwood, Stone’s manager and wife, said. Whether it be in the bluegrass, jam or jazz scene, Stone has been consistently involved in Vermont music, she said.

Being included on the two-disc compilation is an honor, Stone said.

“I’m totally psyched,” he said. “This sounds like the beginning for all kinds of great stuff for Vermont music.”