Blog #6: Allen Stone and Coming Full Circle

Back in late August, our band, Jacklando, played with the great Spokane artist, Allen Stone. This was a dream come true for the four of us, and personally, I felt that this was one of those “full circle” moments. Here is the full performance!

Four years ago in mid November, as a college freshman, I had the opportunity to see Allen in concert in the small cafeteria at Gonzaga. I was somewhat aware of his music, but after this concert, I transitioned from a casual listener to a true fan. 

Allen’s music was so uplifting and from the heart. The show was a feel good roller coaster of funk, soul, and tasty vocal ad libs. Long story short, my RA Franky and I had the time of our lives in the front row at this small, rinky dink, venue. 

This was one of those nights that convinced me to make music a part of my life in a substantial way. In the several months following the show, Allen’s music began to influence my musical tastes, and in turn, the way I played. The next semester, I enrolled in jazz piano, joined the jazz band and combo at GU, and began playing music with my dorm-mate, Luke Westermeyer. As a classical musician for so many years, I started breaking out of the “play what’s on the page” mold and more towards “play what you feel”. 

At some point along this journey, I found out that Al was from Spokane. I remember thinking, “how cool would it be to one day play with Allen Stone?!”. My aspiration was to play at places like the Knitting Factory and the Bartlett with some of my favorite artists. These goals started to fuel my practice in a serious way. I would go to class, practice, then class, then practice, then lunch, then more practice, etc. We had jam sessions a few times a week and played gigs when we could. There were days I would practice anywhere from four to six hours, not including rehearsals. My love for music slowly grew into an obsession. 

Flash forward to 2020, when I got a text from another great Spokane artist, Blake Braley, asking if Jacklando wanted to play on Allen’s “Live at the Lodge” series. After that show, our Spotify following went up like 1,000,000,000%. Blake is the man, go check out his music!

Two months later, Blake asked if I could fill in for him playing keyboards for one of Allen Stone’s virtual shows.

The answer was a resounding yes. 

The gig was a part of Allen’s variety project, “The Allen Stone Show”, with comedy sketches, interviews, and musical performances. It was an amazing experience working with Allen, the band, and his excellent crew. Here is a small clip, where you can check out my absurd stank face while playing one of my favorite songs, “Give You Blue”.

It isn’t too often you get to play some of your favorite songs with the artist who wrote them. This was such an unreal experience and will be ingrained in my memory for a long time. More importantly, it encouraged me to never lose my passion for music and to always appreciate the process. 

The piano has been such a big part of my life and no matter where I live, what my career is, or how old I am, I will always make time to play!

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