Best Up-and-Coming Musician
Best Up-and-Coming Musician 2014: Simi Stone
Photograph by Dion Ogust
It’s crazy that Simi Stone isn’t totally famous already. This Woodstock born-and-raised singer/songwriter has performed and toured with some top names in the music world, including the Valley’s own Natalie Merchant, with whom she’s teamed up at rallies for domestic violence awareness and anti-fracking. Over the years, you might have seen her in videos by Metallica and on CD covers for Cornershop (she appeared on that British indie band’s When I Was Born For the 7th Time). And she played violin with Denis Leary’s band on TV’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien (she also plays guitar and tambourine). Stone, in her mid-30s, now has her own band, comprised of musicians who have jammed with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and the B-52s. But even without them she would shine, performing her signature “mountain meets Motown” folk-pop.
A striking stage presence (she was once the lead singer of a rock band called Suffrajett; some reviewers have likened her to Diana Ross and Tina Turner), Stone has a cult following that extends to English shores.
“I always thought I was going to be a comedian or a theater actor. I was writing music to get my emotions out, I didn’t know I was going to end up doing this,” says Stone, who wrote her first song with a friend in fourth grade (back when she was known as Simantha Molly Lou Sernaker, her original name) and performed it daily on the playground. “It was my first hit — in fact, my only hit,” she says with a laugh.
That seems about to change. A new, self-titled solo recording, made possible by an outpouring of thousands of dollars from fans on Kickstarter, is ready to dazzle the world. “It’s really intense,” says Stone. “We’re trying to get it out there — we’re speaking with some labels — and it’s available at shows and the Woodstock Music Shop. I tend to write very personally. I’ve expanded my idea of writing a song by picking a subject or a word or title first, and then writing it. But I always end up putting my life experience in.” Even as she hits the big time, Stone continues to draw inspiration from the Woodstock area. “I love Cooper Lake. I go there a lot and walk in the hills with my best friends; I have come to so appreciate the land where I grew up.” If you hurry, you can catch her on September 25 at the Towne Crier Cafe in Beacon. www.simistonemusic.com