I’d seen 3rd Stone once before, at a party where the acoustics did a great disservice to the band. I’m on the band’s Facebook list, and I told singer Quintina Crawford that I’d never seen a band use social media as well as 3rd Stone does. I admire marketing machinery like this. It makes the rest of us look like slouches and, as Quintina told me, the band is dedicated to networking.
That network turned out in force at the Bo Diddley Plaza despite a coming electrical storm that had the band deciding not to take a break but to play right through in case the show had to be stopped earlier than usual. With the addition of bongo player Austin Collins, the band played a two-hour set that competed with the lightning in terms of electricity.
It’s almost hackneyed to call a band “timeless,” but this is exactly the right descriptor for 3rd Stone’s music. Within the musical collective are power funk, reggae, soul, jazz, blues, World beat that join together to sound as if it is something one might have heard at Woodstock (Richie Havens) or at First Avenue (Prince) with a bit of the early psychedelic experiments of Jefferson Airplane and New Wave in the form of Brooklyn’s The Shirts, whose lead singer Annie Golden came to mind as I listened to Quintina Crawford’s elastic, expansive vocal range. That voice rumbles in the lower depths and rockets in the head; another comparison is to the great Merry Clayton.
3rd Stone piles rhythms and inventions one atop another with a driving, relentless force. As soon as you think a song has reached its peak, it keeps going, but then it subsides, suspends, and storms forward anew. Some directions are foreshortened and others are stretched into infinity towards an address that no musical GPS could decode. The band is writing some great material that seems as if it enters the listener’s bloodstream and becomes one with the body, causing it to move without being commanded to move.
The band formed around a very young (age 10) virtuouso guitarist/keyboardist back in 2006 and took off from there with an ensemble of the type of musician most musicians wish they could be, but aren’t. Where do these people come from? If this sounds as if it might be a case of too many talented cooks spoiling the gumbo, it isn’t. 3rd Stone is a unified ensemble that seems free from competitiveness. Each member shines singly and as part of the larger whole as they deconstruct and rebuild musical genres. Rhythms acquire a texture that seems to change shape before your eyes, lending the show a visual element beyond mere performance. They are without a doubt the most visceral band I’ve seen in a long time, and I wonder how and where they get their energy. This stems in part from their set’s being like an extended, joyful jam to which the public is invited, but that jam is a precise, controlled one that only appears loose the longer one gets lost in it.
Vocalist/guitarist Wester Joseph both looks and sounds like a classic; he’s built like a guitar string and he sounds as if the Gods gave him the same groove Hendrix had, that same ability to have the body become the seventh string of an electric guitar. Teen virtuoso Anthony Kavouklis, around whose immense talents the band formed, has the same mystical quality except that it seems to be coming from his mind, as if he and a guitar share the same brain.
The rhythm section of Eli Collins, Jose Rosado, and Sean Patrick McGuire (with Austin Collins sitting in) is that part of the band that urges, drives, and compels. As a unit, they know when to attack and when to soft-brush in a form of musical art much akin to painting, rendering beat in earthy tonal particulars.
Lyrically, 3rd Stone seems committed to positive messaging. Or perhaps I should say positive meaning, conveyed through deceptively simple words attached to complex melodies. I almost feel as if they are superheroes who can save the musical planet, a thought that was cemented by their stunning encore. They’ve at least saved me from thinking we were in a period of musical crisis. These kids won’t be local for long and I urge you to visit the band’s Web site and download their album now. Right now.
Quintina Crawford, Wester Joseph, Jose Rosado
Anthony Kavouklis, Quintina Crawford, Wester Joseph
Sean Patrick McGuire
Quintina Crawford, Anthony Kavouklis, Eli Collins, and Wester Joseph