Stone River – Emerging Artist Spotlight

Stone River, photo by Clint Tham

December 14, 2012 – Today we have a real treat. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with T-MAK World will know we’re big fans of what is now called Classic Rock, but not so long was just Rock. For example, in 2012 we’ve featured more than twenty articles on either Led Zeppelin or other musicians covering Zeppelin music. Today we’re featuring Toronto’s Stone River, a band whose Southern Rock sounds evoke The Black Crowes among others. 

But they can tell their story best. The following is from the band’s website (used with permission):

Stone River has been called “The New Southern Rock of the North” by the late mastering engineer George Marino (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith). A band with passion, love and decibels to spare, Stone River crafts their own brand of southern-style melodic rock with all the trimmings. 

In a current musical climate afflicted with transitory images and sub genre trends that quickly burn out, it’s comforting once in a while to discover young artists that actually put the music first. Being inspired by the harmony and musical depth of early 70’s rock, Stone River is a true musician’s band that embodies the absolute best of this musical epoch (the band’s numerous comparisons to The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, Point Blank and Aerosmith reinforces this fact). Stone River plays memorable, timeless and exciting original songs — songs that capture a wide audience of true music fans. 

Formed in 2006, the Toronto-based quintet has played hundreds of shows across Ontario and has gained thousands of fans across Canada, playing in direct support of major acts like The Black Crowes, Tom Wilson, Parlor Mob and Jeff Martin. No strangers to large festivals, Stone River has played Sarnia Bayfest in front of 20,000 people as well as the Barrie New Music Fest, Toronto’s Festival of Beer, NXNE, Canadian Music Week, Canada’s largest ribfest, and Queen West Music Fest to name a few. The band is comprised of Jeff Desilets and Darren Flower on guitar, Renan Yildizdogan on lead vocals, Jay Macedo on bass and Sasha Siegel on drums. 

Their debut LP The Valley of the Butterflies sold over 2000 copies in Germany and the single “Southern Feeling” peaked at #24 on German Rock Radio charts and #17 on Belgium’s Radio QUARTZ, charting in the top 20 with acts like Muse, Pearl Jam and John Fogerty. The album received excellent reviews in major publications such as Aardschok, Melodie & Rhythmus, Rocks and Metal Hammer.

Stone River continues to build their European fan base and enjoyed a packed industry showcase at the prestigious MIDEM Festival in Cannes, January 2012. They also showcased for the top European booking agents and promoters at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany this past September. With Bonham-sized drum sounds, dual guitar leads, three-part harmonies and a talented lead vocalist who really belts it out, Stone River’s dynamic live performances pack some serious punch.

 Stone River is currently finishing up their second LP entitled Euphoria with Los Angeles based producer Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon, Awolnation, Live) and legendary engineer Nick Blagona (Deep Purple, The Tea Party, Alexisonfire) at Jukasa Studios for a winter 2013 release. They opted for an old-school approach, going live off the floor to tape to best capture the fun boogies, acoustic ballads, and foot-stomping hard rock songs that most bands these days could only dream of writing. Get ready for the best rock ‘n roll record to come out of Canada in a long time. 

And on that we agree. Let’s get to know them a little better. We gave Stone River our usual introductory questions. Here’s what they had to say.
photo from Stone River website
Hey Stone River, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock? 

Stone River: Renan: Vocals, Guitar – Jeff Desilets; Guitar – Darren Flower: Guitar – Jim Longyear: Bass – Sasha Siegel: Drums 

How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?  

Stone River: The band has been together for about 8 years. Jeff and Darren knew each other from High school and had been playing guitar together for many years. They joined forces with Renan a few years after and Stone River was formed. Jim joined the band not long after. 

Who are some of your musical influences? 

Stone River: Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, Bob Dylan, Rare Earth, Doobie Brothers to name a few. 

So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it? 

Stone River: Rock ‘n Roll 

Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night? 

Stone River: We are not a 2-piece electro-pop act or an alt country band. Since that covers about 95% of the bands in this city these days, they’ll be in for a surprise.  (edit: amen to that).This is straight up Rock n Roll with all the expected fixings. We are a diverse band and we try to keep our sets dynamic and fresh throughout. They will leave at least with 2-3 songs stuck in their head.

Photo from Stone River website

What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why? 

Stone River: It’s hard to single out a line as our songs are a reflection of our emotions that are hard to sum up in 1 line or a sentence, but if I had to pick “a single line”, It would be, “Guess I’ll sing another song; for tomorrow’s setting sun will shine on everyone”. This is how I feel pretty much every day. It’s what gets me through the day. Our music is what we live for. The lyrics are a reflection of our lives, almost like a therapy. It speaks to us when we play it/listen to it. I must have listened to our upcoming record at least a thousand times. There are no plan B’s, no other baskets we put our eggs into. We write songs and sing along and that’s what gets us through. 

What does 2013 hold for you? 

Stone River: We have a brand new record coming out in 2013 as well as a cross Canada tour. We will be heading down to the United States around March for SXSW. We are hoping to tour in Europe as well but it’ll depend on the label and resources. 

Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig. 

Stone River: Well, I always thought the answer to that question was the Rolling Stones, but after hearing terrifying stories from other bands that toured/played with them, I changed my mind. I’d love to tour with the Allman Brothers band because they are like a family much like us. I like a family atmosphere. A celebration every night with good food, a few drinks, stories and appreciation for life and each other. I think it’d also make us better musicians and we would learn a lot from it.

Stone River, photo by Clint Tham
What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists? 

Stone River: Anyone who tries to predict the music industry’s future, will be wrong the next day. The internet changed the game so much and no one has figured out a way to properly distribute/create new sources of revenue. I think the whole Spotify thing is a good thing as people will at least pay something as opposed to nothing for music but how is that going to be paid out to musicians and in what increments? I hate to say this but I spend more time on the business side of things as opposed to the music side of things these days. I don’t like it one bit. I think there is no definitive answer. All you can do is try to think creatively about how you can get your music heard because it is the biggest challenge. You can be the greatest band no one has heard of or you can become a youtube sensation overnight if you come up with a great idea. But it is not easy being an artist these days. You really have to love what you’re doing. A good friend of mine who has been in the industry for a long time asked me once, “Are you willing to die for your music?” I think the answer to that should be yes without hesitation. If there is hesitation, it’s time for a career change. 

Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere? 

Stone River: Currently our debut CD “The Valley of the Butterflies” is available for sale on our website at and our upcoming record will be out sometime in early 2013 (Fontana/Gypsy Soul Records). It will be on the shelves as well as online. Stay tuned for a release date. 

At the end of 2011 we did our picks for top 10 albums of 2011. What album do you think we should include in our top 10 albums of 2012 article?

Stone River: Parlor Mob – Dogs 

Any closing remarks for our readers? 

Stone River: Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoy our upcoming record Euphoria. Enjoy life, be kind to others, help one and each other, don’t become isolated or indulge in selfish and cynical patterns. Tomorrows sun will shine on everyone. And most importantly keep on Rocking and Rolling. 

Thanks so much to Stone River. We’re looking forward to seeing the band live on December 20th at The Hideout. Stone River will be announcing some tour dates for 2013 very soon, one stop will include Toronto for Canadian Music Week in March.
The band’s website is We’d encourage readers to go have a listen to the songs that are streamed there for some awesome real rock n’roll. You can follow them on twitter @Stone_River and Check out their video below from YouTube.
Article by Steve Mallinson
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