Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel has been busy. In the weeks leading up to ECMA it seems the band has been everywhere you looked. They played Thursdays at Governors Pub all through February, had a big show at Smooth Herman’s, an evening at Wentworth Perk and two trips to Halifax to play in the Delta Hotels Battle to Canadian Music Week at the Seahorse Tavern; a battle of the bands for a coveted spot performing at the Enter the Tiki stage during CMW in Toronto—which they won. But it’s all in a month’s work for a band whose stated ambition is to be the biggest band in the world.
And why not? In the year and half since winning a competition at Smooth Herman’s, Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel has recorded a full length album at the award-winning Lakewind Sound Studios; supported acts like Hedley, Matt Mays, and Gordie Sampson; been nominated for two Music Nova Scotia awards and one East Coast Music Award; and are now on their way to Toronto to showcase at the biggest music industry event in the country. But first things first—the ECMA’s this weekend in Sydney where they’re nominated for Sirius Satellite Radio Rock Recording of the Year and will be performing at a couple of showcases.
“This will be our first ECMA weekend as a band so we are going in with no real expectations,” says singer Carleton Stone. “Our hope is to create a good buzz around the band and our performances and take in some of the knowledge offered at the conferences. Our main focus of the weekend is to try and secure some more shows for the coming months, hopefully some festival gigs, as well as add on to the team we are building around ourselves.”
Stone sees events like the ECMA, and the recent Nova Scotia Music Week held in Yarmouth in November, as being important functions of making a name for yourself in the music industry. “As a band we learned a lot of what to do and how to make the best of these showcasing opportunities, so we are hoping to utilize that knowledge to better our ECMA experience.”
All the industry know-how can only get you so far though, and luckily Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel has a sound that backs up their ambition. Their music has been described as having “…the perfect hit-maker balance of passion, originality and relentless live energy, with a complete, super charged E-Street orchestration, yoked to the lyrical wit and conviction of a Ryan Adams or Elvis Costello”. Their self-titled debut album quickly made an impact on listeners after its release, getting rave reviews and frequent plays on CBC Radio locally.
“Reaction to the album has been great!” says Stone. “We have almost sold out our initial run and all the response has been positive.”
Even so, they are an ambitious lot, and in January they were back in the studio working on a new record with award-winning producer Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd.
“We just released an album in the summer,” explains Stone, “but are anxious to put out new material which is more representative of what the band is doing now.”
He says the band is moving towards a more mature, jazz-influenced, country-tinged pop sound since a recent lineup change. Along with Stone on lead vocals and guitars, is John Hatcher (pedal steel, lap steel, electric guitar), Kyle Varley (keyboards, background vocals), Mike Ouelette (electric bass, double bass, background vocals) and Greg Hann (drums and percussion). The lineup change was a result of the band evolving from a more straight-ahead, in your face rock sound, and as players who weren’t able to commit to music full-time were replaced.
“Me and John and Kyle went to high school together and have known and played in various incarnations for years,” he says. “Mike Ouelette was the bass player in my very first band who recently joined the group for the recording of our new record. Greg Hann is a jazz drummer who had crossed paths with everyone in the band and seemed liked a good fit for our project so we brought him on board.”
They are expecting the new record to come out in Summer 2010, with a six song, acoustic EP which videographer Darcy Campbell from Shot On Site Media captured the making of. They are also planning a proper video for the first single from this new release.
But for now, it’s all about business at hand for Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel and that is the East Coast Music Awards.
“ECMAs will be a busy time for us. We have at least three full band shows booked, and four acoustic shows with just me and one of my band mates. We’re hoping to make a lot of great contacts over the weekend to help our band progress to the next level of success.”
On Friday, Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel will be performing at the Official ECMA CBU CD Launch at the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club, ECMA Rock Showcase at Smooth Herman’s, and the Joseph Scott Entertainment Agency Showcase at Governor’s Pub. On Saturday, they’ll be at the Delta Hotel Crown & Moose for the ECMA Music Nova Scotia showcase and the CBMIC Showcase. For more information on Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel visit carletonstone.ca. Click here to vote for Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel for Fan’s Choice Award.