The West Michigan band’s debut Friday included a show at Billy’s Lounge and an in-studio for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted new local holiday tunes and more. Story, videos, photos.
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For Diego Morales, all songs and performances start with soul, but his latest band project, Dalmatian Stone, aims to really “push the boundaries of making original music.”
So, the Holland singer and guitarist known for fronting the vintage R&B band The Soul Syndicate and “Rat Pack”-leaning JMM Jazz Trio sought out West Michigan musicians he considers some of the best in the business to create and unleash a mind-bending mix of funk, soul, acid-jazz, rock and pop for Dalmatian Stone’s debut album released in late November.
And when this formidable new seven-piece group with a who’s who lineup uncorked its inaugural set in an early show at Billy’s Lounge on Friday evening, it proved its mettle with not only those eclectic originals but an ear-pleasing mix of covers ranging from Lenny Kravitz to Santana.
“We used the formula in reverse,” Morales says of the genesis of Dalmatian Stone. “This band never played together; although I’ve worked with all of them in different bands. We didn’t rehearse any covers at all. From our first session together it was all about creating music.
“I wanted to do something soul-infused – part jazz, part funk, but without confines. No specific genre. Just good moving music. In the end, 20 songs later, we knew we had something that was different. And different was exactly what I wanted to accomplish with this.”
For its first live performance, Morales accomplished that mission of Dalmatian Stone with such renowned local players as Earl Tolliver on bass, Mike Dodge on guitar, Brian Sproul on keyboards, Nic Stubbs on drums, and Miss Andria and Miss Katie on backing vocals. Check out the video from the band’s performance of “You Came Back” here below.
SURROUNDING HIMSELF ‘WITH SOME OF THE BEST PLAYERS’
“I think surrounding myself with some of the best players and people I know helped in the process. No one came in with any inclination of gigging per se. My vision was to make music,” says Morales.
“To just create. Had help from a lot of people who had no intention of being in a band, but really got into what I was creating so they pitched in their time and talent.”
VIDEO: Dalmatian Stone, “You Came Back” (Live at Billy’s Lounge)
Several of those musicians pitched in their time and talent for the radio debut of Dalmatian Stone during this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, performing the songs “You Came Back” and “Live Happily.” Listen to the full interview and those performances in the podcast below.
Morales, aka D’Yehgo, who recently parted ways with The Soul Syndicate to head up Dalmatian Stone, said he was simply interested in making “good moving music … without the box – taking the influences that we all kind of grew up listening to and really pushing and exploring” – a diverse style he describes as “mystephonic.”
That approach propels the 15 tracks on the band’s debut album, “Deciph3r” (which also features Tom Taylor, Ed Garcia, Tim DenBesten, Nate Hanson, Dan Giocobassi, Miss Aubrey, Mark Weymouth and Jake Mor). The album produced by Morales was recorded at Planet Sunday Studios by Joel Ferguson.
The music that influenced Morales growing up amid “a hard knock life” in Chicago covered the gamut – Cuban music, Mexican music, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, old soul records, British Invasion stars.
MUSIC ‘REALLY DID SAVE MY LIFE’
It provided an alternative to his gang-bang activities (“I was doing things at 12 and 13 that no kid should do”), offering up “a land of opportunity” in the world of music. “It really did save my life, to be honest,” he recalls.
Now, Dalmatian Stone is offering Morales and his bandmates a chance to live out the theme behind the band name – a reference to a type of multi-colored stone (comprised of feldspar and quartz).
“To me it just represents diversity – how all these elements can come together and combine into something that is beautiful,” he says, noting he’d love to “push the boundaries” with Dalmatian Stone’s performances, too, potentially touring outside the region.
“It’s danceable stuff, it’s sing-along stuff, it’s grooving stuff.”
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE also featured the debut of new regional tracks, including a holiday song, “Run, Run Rudolph,” from the new “Christmas at Critter’s” compilation featuring The Legal Immigrants, Melophobix and Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, a rendition of “Carol of The Bells” by Kevin DePree, a new single, “When the Snow Falls Down” by Michael Dause (of The Accidentals), plus tracks by The JetBeats (this week’s musician’s pick), Westrin & Mowry, Red Legs, Jake Kershaw, Conrad Shock + The Noise and Brother Elsey.
Listen to the podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (Dec. 14, 2018)
PHOTO GALLERY: Dalmatian Stone at Billy’s Lounge
Photos by Kendra Kamp
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC