Ty Stone to play at MI FestWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Detroit native Ty Stone was on the other side of the country, working at Molly Malone’s pub in Los Angeles, when his hometown hero Kid Rock discovered his music.
“I remember I got my first ‘Yo-Da-Lin in the Valley’ cassette tape in the seventh grade,” Stone said. “I’ve been listening to him my whole life. Kid Rock was able to mix country, rock and hip hop. It was very cool that it was Kid Rock. It could have been anyone. I would have been happy if Nickelback signed me. Having it be someone I was truly a fan of was incredible.”
One of Stone’s friends got front row tickets to a Detroit Pistons game and brought a demo just in case Kid Rock was there. He was, and he took the demo. After listening to it for a few weeks, he met up with Stone in LA Kid Rock convinced him to move back to Detroit, and Stone spent the next four months living with him.
“It reminds me of an ’80s movie where a kid flipping hamburgers gets discovered by his favorite rock star, and he asks him to move into his house and travel with him,” Stone said. “It was a once in a lifetime experience. We’ve had a great working relationship the whole time. He’s taken me out on tour a few times. He’s introduced me to some of his incredible friends and opened so many opportunities to me. He’s a friend and a mentor. I always look forward to getting to hang, play a show with him or get in the studio with him. It’s always an experience.”
During those four months, Stone met musicians such as Elton John and Axl Rose, and he got to write around a campfire with Hank Williams Jr. He was happy to come back to Detroit, but Stone reflects fondly on his time out West.
“It was one of the best times of my life,” Stone said. “It’s such a cool, fun experience to be in your 20s in a town where everybody is an artist and struggling, trying to do the same thing you are doing. It’s expensive out there and it’s hard to make money. It’s a challenge, but being able to live up to it and eventually finding success is one of the more fulfilling experiences of my life.”
Kid Rock didn’t stop at signing Stone and inviting him into his home. He was also the executive producer on his debut album, “American Style.”
“He’s kind of a musical genius,” Stone said. “He pulled the best out of me as an artist. It’s hard to critique your own work. I’m a pretty good singer, so I don’t get a lot of good critique. He’s not afraid to say something needs work or suggest trying something different. He’s almost always spot on. He’s got great natural musical instincts and a huge well of musical knowledge. He’s really hands-on. He sat there at the booth the whole time with a mic in his hand, telling everybody what to do.”
The title track off “American Style” is a narrative of Stone’s life before he moved to LA.
“‘American Style’ is my true story,” Stone said. “It’s one of those songs I didn’t write as a single. I literally wrote it in 40 minutes in my mom’s basement. My friend had lost his job and was living with us, and my sister and I had to move back home. We were all in this same little bitty house, and I just wrote the song about what was going on. Kid Rock heard it and got really excited. He said it’s the story of what’s going on in America and everybody is going to relate to it.”
Coming from a blue-collar background, Stone thinks his mesh of country, soul and rock ’n’ roll is relatable, especially to people from the Midwest.
“My dad was a steel mill worker and I’ve had to work for everything I have,” Stone said. “I think most Americans can relate to that, especially folks in our area like Toledo and Detroit. I feel like I relate to the common person, where a lot of others in the industry don’t relate as well.”
One thing about Stone that is not common is his voice, which he describes as “like a chainsaw.”
“It’s loud and I tear it up,” Stone said. “I get those moments where you put the hammer down, and people kind of turn around and look. Like it or not, they are always like, ‘What is that?’ It’s kind of a cool effect. It’s my secret weapon. It’s an underdog factor. They see me and they don’t think I’m going to sing like I do.”
Stone will put his chainsaw voice on display Sept. 17 at the inaugural MI Fest at Michigan International Speedway. He is excited for the festival after meeting with founder Paul Gilbert on Sept. 3 at his show in Royal Oak, Mich.
“They have this place leased for the next three years, so they’re thinking long term,” Stone said. “He’s another one of those great Michigan people that’s doing things local. It all starts with where you put your money. It’s a great example of somebody standing up and putting their money where their mouth is. That’s important to me, and I’ll stand next to them any time.”
Stone splits his time between Detroit and Nashville. Over Labor Day weekend, he installed a recording studio in his Nashville home.
“I bought my very first 4-track when I was 11 years old,” Stone said. “I’ve been making music and recording it ever since. I’ve had every format of recording gear over the years. I’m not a great engineer or producer by any means, but I sure love making music. It’s always a great time when I get to sit down and create. It’s just for me. I get to make music. It’s in my house so it isn’t costing me a bunch of money. It’s my time to create music.”