Categories: Performing Arts

Allen Stone makes R&B music in the wilderness

Blue-eyed soul singer Allen Stone, who self-released his first two albums before signing with a major label, is staying to true to his small-town his roots.

In May, the Chewelah, Wash. native, who bellowed gospel in his minister father’s chapel, released his third CD “Radius” on Capitol, featuring rafter-rattling R&B tunes “Circle,” “Perfect World” and “Guardian Angel,” which is far from metaphorical.

“I always feel this protecting and guarding force around me that keeps me from harm,” he says. “And having grown up in the church, my easiest and most clarifying definition of that force is an angel.”

When Stone, who appears in The City this week, recently left home with his Australian girlfriend Tara, he didn’t stray far. The couple moved only 20 minutes down the road from Chewelah, to a forested, lakeside log cabin where he set up home-studio shop and began composing “Radius.”

It was a retreat both familiar and inspiring. “My best friend in the world had a place just above this cabin, so I had grown up there, summers and weekends, fishing and raising a ruckus,” he says. “So I thought, ‘Man – what better place to go back to, in an attempt to find my center?’”

Adding to the homey feel: the vocalist’s new English bulldog, Ricki Lake (named for the talk show host he adores) and his aforementioned childhood chum, who now lives there, too. The trio is learning to live off the land; they’ve planted a garden and are fermenting their own hard cider.

“The closest town has a post office, but no stoplights and no restaurants,” Stone says. “And we’ve got cougars, we’ve got bears. The other day, there was a moose outside in our yard! And they’re just gigantic, like a brachiosaurus.”

Stone has also befriended the proprietors of the only local coffeehouse, and they let him tinker in their private woodshop out back. “I’ve been getting my hands dirty in there of late,” says the amateur woodsmith, who hand-crafted three floating shelves for his living room. “But songs come to me quite easily out there, because I feel comfortable, I feel at home, and I don’t feel the pressure of the plastic-hearted music industry.”

Stone admits that he’s got a little Thoreau in him. “But also,” he adds, “I have an intrinsic desire to pee outside and not be watched, and not have to worry about cops giving me tickets.” Occasionally, he’s spotted by a curious neighborhood raccoon, he adds. “But we’ve got a thing worked out – I let him get in the garbage and go for it, and he doesn’t tell any of his raccoon buddies about my urination!”


IF YOU GO

Allen Stone
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. June 23
Tickets: $25 to $28 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.ticketfly,com

Tom Lanham
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Tom Lanham

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