As the twisted metallic orb of a quarter negotiates itself through the calused fingers of the hungry listener; so too does the tender winding vocals and hand of Stevie Tombstone. The quarter selected amongst many for reasons beyond our rhetoric and reason, it drops effortlessly into a darkened hollow abyss; deflecting at complimentary 45 degree splits of its vertical cascade as the selection is made.
Stevie Tombstone is a gentle road weary spirit, his blackened oily hair pulled back over his brow; a sepia accented pin striped vagabond suit with a dark unbuttoned collar bursting casually forth tell a tale of a man graced with the poise and tenacity of Johnny Cash. Tombstone is a silent statuesque lyrical giant who holds true to his inner convictions and embraces the acoustic body of his guitar as that of his lover; beneath the stars each night, held closely to his chest - his tenor resonating methodically through it's curves as one lover compliments the other.
After a chance meeting with Roy Acuff, Stevie (then, a young man) was certain he would always be a musician. Born in rural Georgia, Stevie learned the ropes playing country, gospel, and blues. Rebelling against his roots, he immersed himself in the world of rock and the underground music scene of the 80s in Atlanta but never lost the twang of his childhood. Almost three decades later, he has become an accomplished performer and songwriter. Stevie has now released five solo albums and several music videos, produced music with his 1980s swamp rockabilly band, The Tombstones, and made appearances on compilations all over the damn place. In his early days, Stevie penned the college radio anthem and regional hit "Nobody", which was later recorded by rock icon, Stiv Bators. After separating with The Tombstones in the 1990s, he toured as the supporting act for Jason & the Scorchers in Europe, which opened the door for his solo career. Taking a more serious approach to songwriting, he then began to write with as many accomplished song-writers as he could find in every realm of the music world, from street poets to music row regulars.
Bouncing between Atlanta, Nashville, and Austin, Stevie recorded Second Hand Sin (1999) and Acoustica (2000) and then settled in Texas. His full-length debut CD, 7:30 am (2003), showcased his singing ability and continuing growth as a songwriter. The CD spent six weeks in the top ten of XM Radio's Channel 12 (X-Country) charts, including two weeks at #1. During this period, Stevie worked as a sideman for several respected Texas acts, including acclaimed songwriter, Rich Minus, and songstress, Texacala Jones. 2004 brought the Cash tribute/compilation, "Dear Johnny", featuring Stevie's version of "Folsom Prison Blues", which received airplay and great reviews. 2006 found Stevie briefly back at the helm of the Tombstones for a national tour to support the re-release of the bands earlier material. Leaving the band for the final time, he married Tombstones bassist, Melissa "Killene" Tombstone, returning to his solo work and fatherhood. In 2008, his sold-out show at the Red House Arts Center was broadcast in its entirety on XM's Wired In series.
Stevie's band mates, over the years, have been a veritable whos who of underground and nationally recognized players, featuring members of Circus of Power, Wilco, the Georgia Satellites, and Jason & The Scorchers. Priding himself in his ability to cross genres, he has also had the honor of sharing the bill with the likes of Leon Russell, the Stray Cats, Greg Allman, Willie Nelson, Drive By Truckers, Johnny Bush & the Ramones, just to name a few.
In this 2011 offering, Stevie is quick to the mark with his trademark vocals and even tone; cutting dangerously close to the soul of the listener he begins with the tenuously uneasy marriage of the "Slow Drunken Waltz". Like the familiar mumbling footsteps of a drunken lover, Tombstone brings this eerily familiar lament in closer than comfort often allows; with the rocking gentle caress of the guitar the familiar quick quick slow embrace lays the foundation of embrace for the coming 8 tracks. As quickly as the drunken waltz began in its familiar awkwardness it vanishes into the night air - leaving many questions burning in the heart of the listener.
As with any question at any time - "Would You Die For Love?" and aptly named and following in succession from the "Slow Drunken Waltz" this is the natural laminar flow of fluidity to answer the inevitable question between two foggy lovers deep in embrace and waiting for the morning unforgiving sun. Feeling the potential sting of the unwelcome truth and the pleasant sweetness of what 'could be' - Tombstone evokes an unmistakeable feeling of rigid uncertainty tempered with an unwavering burning flame of passion.
To that passion and duress, he steadily eases his foot into the heated insulating coals of "Burnin' Flame", within this third track he finds the tenderness and warmth of her, her actions and words. Simply put, "I didn't have the guts to tell the truth, got a burnin' flame inside of me. . .and the truth scares the hell outta me; a hangin rope straight and true cools the flame inside of me". With tremblin' hands and a mind that won't forget and relent he cannot drive her and the words she said from within his mind. An uneasy repetitious cyclical burning seems to be the only answer for Tombstone to bring peace and extinguish the hurt and eventually the "Burnin' Flame".
Like any lost and regretful lover; distance is always the worst adversary to resolution and the simple effort of trying and its here we find ourselves intertwined in the simple footsteps of the "Tryin' Waltz". Beginning with the simplest of waltz melodies the waltz gives way to the fifth track "Tryin' To Get Myself Home". When the time has expired, the distance is too far, the hill too steep; Stevie Tombstone always knows the suitable placement of his lyrics. ". . .ran across the desert, ran across the mountains, ran across our old parking lot. Ran outta pills, ran outta patience, ran into some friends I forgot" - simply put he is a genius in his conveyance and magic of emotion and empathetic charge.
As the CD winds it's way into the darkness of the heart and the trees of the soul, the guitar clipping and steady rocking of the melody professes and undone and disorganization of settled contentment; "Don't Know What I'm Gonna Do". Beneath it all, we have found ourselves here as well; after uncomfortable silences and words said, and paths taken with destinations unknown - Tombstone understands and exposes his soul at this moment in a crux of definitive risk and temporary abandon and unrealized misguided love.
With all misdirections and unrealizations of passion we are at the end a victim of the passages of time. Time although of stated as the healer of all wounds is in many cases the incipient point of contact that scars the heart and tears at the soul. With the mournful beginnings of "Ten Lonely Years" Tombstone states eloquently "time has taken away all my hopes and my fears, do you still remember me ? - do you whisper my name as you drift off to sleep ?". It is apparent that the hurt is not superficial and the brooding and emotional waters run deep and cold as the harmonica balances in the background. Locked inside this barbed wire fortress, I've spent ten lonely years. . .
As if back in the saddle and riding high after his acceptance of loss, waste and tragedy; Tombstone relinquishes his grip on the past and opens his eyes and heart to the future. He boldly professes "I've met every kinda liar that there is - there's a lot of folks that call themselves your friends". With his sage words of advice and knowledge between the blurred grey lines he sticks to what he knows best and that its "good to have his feet back on that old solid ground". Lamenting his departure from the "easy way out", Stevie admittedly addresses his mistakes of the past and regains his footing as he builds anew and moves into the open embrace and warmth of the future and positivity of the gold light found therein.
Through the journey we've ridden with Stevie Tombstone we are afforded a rare glimpse into the sincerity and richness of a man's soul who is committed to embracing risk, acknowledgement of fault and the acceptance of progression and growth. We are lucky to have men like Stevie Tombstone on our musical horizon and much the same as the name implies, he is a statue of memory - a granite marker of a life lived and songs of a life still in the creative conceptual stages.
till we meet again. . .into the night we find our resolution and the guitar our peace.