Stone & Snow
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Stone & Snow

Bloomington, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Bloomington, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo Folk Americana

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"Stone & Snow Wins International Songwriting Contest"

Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson of the Bloomington-Normal folk duo Stone & Snow are on a roll with their original song "Love is a Weapon."

The video for the song was recognized as one of the outstanding entries in the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest.

Stone & Snow learned a month ago "Love is a Weapon" won the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest NAMM edition. That earned them a trip to Los Angeles to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference this Sunday to perform on the main stage.

Bridges and Thomson stopped by the GLT studios to talk about the award. Thomson said it's a big deal to be able to perform a 40-minute set of original music in front of music professionals.

“A lot of people have known about the NAMM show for a long, long time, and me just through being a gear hound,” said Thomson.

“Exposure is exciting,” added Bridges. “I don’t know what to expect though, I think that’s maybe my hesitation as I’ve never been to NAMM. How you learn about new gear in the industry is really through that show."

In addition to winning the performance, NAMM is giving the duo roughly $12,000 in gear as another part of the prize package.

"I didn't think it would be something that people would care about because it seemed so personal to me at the beginning when I wrote it."
Recognition from NPR and now a songwriting contest affiliated with a prestigious industry group has the duo still a bit taken aback.

“It’s a little surreal,” Bridges giggled. “I didn’t think it would be something that people would care about because it seemed so personal to me at the beginning when I wrote it.”

“I guess when somebody on the outside looking in at this one, I think the timing of this one couldn’t come at a better time with the way things are today and all the hate going around,” added Thomson. “For me, that’s the importance of the song; we don’t have to focus on the hate or the negative.”

“The interpretation I hear from others is that it’s largely about courage and approaching conflict,” said Bridges. “There’s always going to be conflict and there’s a lot of hate out there right now, but to approach things from a place of love and to use that as a way to fight rather than giving in to your base instincts.”

Both say the national “nudges” have them motivated as they plan the recording of their first album in nearly three years.

“We’re going to record new material this year, and this song will be featured prominently,” said Bridges, who added they have recorded “Love is a Weapon” recently.

“We’re going to offer it up as a single next month, and do a pre-order campaign to get this album going. We’re looking at a summer release,” said Bridges.

Stone & Snow will perform at 1 p.m. Sunday on the main stage of the NAMM show in Los Angeles. They have also been offered to perform at the Dexibell booth at NAMM where other guest artists are expected to perform, including Stevie Wonder.

Bridges said Dexibell is a relatively new company out of Italy that started out of a shuttered Roland Europe factory about two years ago. - WGLT


"Watch This Week's Outstanding Entries From The Tiny Desk Contest"

If Florence + the Machine made folk music, it might sound a little like Stone & Snow. Led by vocalist Karen Bridges, the band — surrounded by candlelight in its Tiny Desk Contest entry — illustrates a seemingly simple plea to a lover with vivid, dark imagery.

Bridges' voice shines throughout the song, but really shows its emotional power in the bridge. Twinkling piano keys serve as a backdrop as Bridges sings, "Everyone is in love with the sun / As it falls and ignites the sky / Oh, but give my twilight / The outline of starlight / I'd rather be blue tonight."

On its face, Stone & Snow's entry may sound like typical folk music with a banjo and a harmonica and a guitar. But the lyrics paint a darker, almost mythological picture about loss, the kind that makes you feel like "the Earth is gonna open up and swallow you whole." — Katie Anastas - NPR - All Songs Considered


"Bob Dylan Song Contest"

Stone & Snow (Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson) “Mama You Been On My Mind”

Stone & Snow lovingly recreate the Dylan/Baez classic. Their rich vocal harmonies and warm vibe will leave you wanting to see more from this Illinois-based duo. - American Songwriter Magazine


"DIY Spirit Fuels The Musical Ambitions Of Stone & Snow"

For over seven years, the alternative folk group Stone & Snow has been building a career one step at a time.

The collaboration began with Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson finding each other via a Craigslist musician’s classified.

The songwriters and multi-instrumentalists built a musical rapport that capitalizes on a close-harmony vocal sound. Even when the harmonies didn’t come naturally, Bridges used her formal musical training to help the self-taught Thomson slide into his part.

“She had me do exercises because she was trying to figure out what my (vocal) range was,” Thomson says of the duo’s early rehearsals. Bridges would then record potential harmony parts for Thomson to try out.

After finding their voice as a duo act, the pair expanded their sound with a rhythm section. They locally produced some records and looked for more opportunities to find listeners. One of those opportunities was an online contest.

By entering, and then winning, the International John Lennon Songwriter’s Contest, the pair gained more exposure.

The contest win with the song “Love is a Weapon” gave Stone & Snow name recognition with new fans.

“When we needed to raise funds to make a high quality recording we could say, ‘Hey you love this song, please support us,’” Bridges says. “There is that freedom in doing it all yourself and DIY. Having your fans be a part of it and support you and elevate you. They’re giving you that vote of confidence which helps propel you forward.”

The latest iteration of the group’s DIY mentality extends to their bookings as well. Bridges says that just like finding the perfect space to record, they took it upon themselves to develop a new space to perform: a “micro venue” called The Hallowed Hall, located in downtown Bloomington’s Half Hazard Press.

“We’ve made our own opportunities in a way. We started a micro venue with Half Hazard Press called Hallowed Hall. We’re coordinating booking the talent. And that’s allowed us to have additional exposure,” says Bridges. “We have wanted to cultivate a listening room venue in Bloomington-Normal for probably the entire time we’ve been making music together. We share a feeling that’s really the best way to experience music: when you can really get up close and listen to it.”

The Hallowed Hall is the venue for the release party celebrating their ambitious new album, titled after their breakthrough song “Love is a Weapon.” The record shows off a side of the group that extends beyond their beginnings as a duo.

“When we play as an acoustic duo I feel much folkier,” said Thomson. “But when we play with our bandmates, I don’t. I feel a little more rock and roll.”

Stone & Snow performs Thursday, July 11, at The Hallowed Hall in downtown Bloomington. The band's new album “Love is a Weapon” is available July 12. - WGLT


"Stone & Snow Wrestle With The 'Devil That I Know'"

By Jon Norton

On the pleasure/pain continuum, Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson of the Bloomington-Normal folk duo "Stone & Snow" concede the latter often wins out.

"It's always good when it's done and always a great feeling when it's starting to take shape," said Thomson. "But in the beginning you never know what you're dealing with, or I'm not sure if she (Bridges) will like it, or vice-versa. So I would say it's slightly painful in the beginning."

Bridges added "The pain probably comes beforehand and then you write about it."

As with many songwriters, Bridges said songwriting for her is more inspirational than mechanical.

"It does kind of just strike, and then whatever you're doing, you have to stop and pull out that voice recorder so you don't forget what you just hummed in the shower," laughed Bridges.

Thomson concurred about jotting or recording an idea when a song reveals itself. He said calculation begins once a song has a few bits and pieces.

"Then when you're sitting down you can decide if a song needs 'this or this,' so I'm just going to write down a bunch or random things that 'this' makes me feel," said Thomson.

The duo's 2016 release "Devil That I Know" was intentionally more upbeat musically than 2014's "These Are The Hills." Musically the songs are more electric and have more of a rock feel than "These Are The Hills." But lyrically the album is littered with ghosts, regret, and longing, almost as if both needed to cleanse themselves of their past.

"We like to write things that mean something and strike a chord with us," said Thomson. "So I would say at least a portion of each one of our albums you're going to hear us pouring something out of ourselves. So I think there's always going to be a good deal of emotion on our albums."

Not all the songs on "Devil That I Know" are dark. "Bluebird" is a straight up love coo and "What My Heart Wants" ("A house in the valley ... with you by my side") imagines a future with the person on her mind. But most of the songs deal with pain, including the beautiful, but gut-splattering inward looking "Why Doesn't Anyone Stick Around?"

Why doesn't anyone stick around?/Am I so easy to leave?/Did you stop loving me?/I'd like to know.

Bridges felt she was channeling a past relationship as she was writing the song.

"I had given so much, only to have it not work out in the end. It was kind of like the story of my life, why doesn't anyone stick around?" laughed Bridges.

Bridges and Thomson came out blazing with their 2017 entry for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. The video was recorded in GLT Program Director Mike McCurdy's office.

"It's a politically charged song," said Thomson. "There's a lot of emotion and feeling wrapped up in that one. So it felt great to finally get it down and send it out. I'm looking forward to recording that in the studio especially because we get to do some different things in there."

Bridges said it was written in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election.

"I've never written a protest song. And it's actually been an interesting experience writing about current events because the meaning of your song can immediately change based on what you've written. I remember writing the lyric 'burn this house down' and a week later we're getting tweets of getting into a nuclear arms race, so that's another meaning of 'burning this house down' that is now added to the song," said Bridges.

Stone & Snow perform February 4 at 7:00 p.m. at Duncan Manor just outside Towanda as part of Duncan Manor's Songwriter Series. - WGLT Radio


"Expect More Electric, Less Melancholy Second Album From Stone & Snow"

By Mike McCurdy

Just because you don’t see the acoustic duo Stone & Snow on stage every week, doesn’t mean the band isn’t working. They just got the results of their entry for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. (See their video entry below) Clint Thomson and Karen Bridges, who are the core of Stone & Snow, said they’re not too upset or surprised they weren't selected. There were 6,000 entries.

They also just wrapped their successful Indiegogo campaign to fund a new album. And they’re in the studio recording that album. Clint and Karen both said "Mama Said," which will be on the new album, was the right choice to submit to NPR.

"I think it's just fun to play. And I think it's fun to listen to," Bridges said during GLT's Sound Ideas. "And it has a message that a lot of people can relate to, 'mama said nothin' ever good happens after midnight.' My mama never actually said that to me, but I have enjoyed listening to the stories of others."

When asked for another favorite on the album, Bridges and Thomson settled on "Ghost in my Bed."

"There's a 'Ghost in my Bed' is my favorite song title of any song I've ever written. And the song is about living with what's left behind when someone leaves you and being haunted by that," said Bridges.

During a 2014 Sound Ideas interview, Bridges described their release "These Are the Hills" as melancholy. Their new album, with what is at this point a secret title, will be a little more upbeat. Both Thomson and and Bridges point to the soulful song "Bluebird."

"We've been thinking about that one (Bluebird) extra in the studio about what we want to do, what we want it to sound like," said Thomson. "To be honest with you, I'm still working on that song. It's a simple song, but it's as complex as you want it to be." (Hear the song, and others in the audio file below)

"I studied jazz a little bit when I was younger, and so that soulful sound comes out in my writing. It just feels natural," said Bridges. "I don't go into it thinking I'm going to have to write something that sounds like this. I think it just comes out naturally."

During the same 2014 GLT interview, Bridges and Thomson talked about their collaborative style, which they say they've not changed. Both come up with parts of songs and then they'll leave with each other's parts of songs and work on the parts separately. Later, together, they test what they've written.

"I think our strongest material comes when we collaborate like that," said Thomson.

When asked about the song "The Devil I Know" on which Thomson takes lead vocals he said "this is a perfect example of that collaborative song writing we do. She came up with a chorus, the title of the song, the idea of the song and then I took it from there."

The duo just concluded an Indiegogo fundraising campaign raising 105% of their goal to pay for the production of the new album.

"We have to find someway to pay for that (a new album) whether that's by taking a percentage of our live performance fees, or somehow finding a guardian angel backer," said Bridges. "I mean, we're growing, but what we're making so far in live performance fees would not cover the cost of the album, much less our other expenses."

Bridges said recording of the new album will conclude soon. It should be mixed and mastered early next month. A release party is planned for The Castle Theater on May 7. - WGLT Radio


"Spotlight On: Stone & Snow"

Blending folk and Americana, Stone & Snow draw their inspiration from the western landscape, mainly the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. With an inviting, warm sound, the duo's music is the perfect accompaniment to a rainy day and a great cup of coffee. Made up of singer-songwriters Karen Bridges (vocals, keyboard, guitar) and Clint Thomson (vocals, guitar), Stone & Snow released their first album, These Are The Hills, in June 2014. Recently, Bridges discussed their new album and crowdfunding techniques with us, as well as playing the Taste of Chicago this past summer and how Sonicbids has helped their career so far.

Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?

We live in the Midwest, and sometimes we wish we had a majestic mountain to look at around here – might make the long winters more bearable! Other songs are historical fact woven with fiction. "There's a River Between Us" was inspired by feuding families like the Hatfields and McCoys, the Montagues and Capulets. "Among the Unknown" is a half-fact, half-fiction series of Civil War death letters sent to families of fallen soldiers. Other times, we're just writing as a reaction to what's going on around us personally.
Your debut album, These Are The Hills, was released earlier this year. What were the most memorable songs that you recorded?
We went big on this. We tracked 15 songs thinking we'd cut a few, but we ended up wanting them all there. A couple of our favorites are "Hello," "How I'll Come Undone," and "Standing Still." We worked with producer David Rossi and owe so much of the sound of this album to him and his vision. Honestly, every track was memorable working with David, and we hope to work with him on the next one.

The album was crowdfunded, which is pretty awesome. How did you decide to go that route?

Like a lot of independent bands, we crowdfunded out of necessity. We knew our album was going to cost a lot of money to produce. It made sense logically when we asked ourselves, "Do we want to front the cost personally and pay ourselves back album sale by album sale, year after year, or do we want to pre-sell the album in a way that covers the cost of production, keeping us in the black when it drops and not saddled by any debt?"

In a perfect world, we could have saved up the money over time to pay for the album, but that's not always possible with a relatively new band that's still building a fanbase and might not be playing enough high-paying gigs to pay the bills, much less save for an album. Asking our fans to help fund the record really seemed like the best way to realistically get the music in their hands, and it paid off. We were able to fund the entire album production with additional funds left over to help us promote the finished product.

What was your biggest lesson learned with crowdfunding? Any advice for other indie artists?

Plan, plan, plan – and do your research. There are hidden costs to crowdfunding (credit card fees, shipping and packaging, postage, sales tax, income tax, etc.), and all of that needs to be built into the amount you ask people to donate. Set your total goal to include those things, and don't overwhelm your donors with too many choices. It's going to take a lot of work to make good on the promises that come along with the donations. Artists should take an honest assessment of their abilities. A lot of creative people aren't very good business owners; it's just not in their nature. If organization is not your strength, enlist someone to help.

Why did you decide to start using Sonicbids?

We started using Sonicbids as a way to connect in new markets neighboring our hometown. Just starting out, it's hard to know who to contact and what to say. Sonicbids made those new connections easy.

How has using Sonicbids helped your career so far?

Sonicbids helped us add higher-profile gigs to our resume, such as Taste of Chicago 2014. Being selected as one of the top bands in the Chicagoland area to perform for their country/Americana day has been a highlight of our career so far and will hopefully lead to more festival gigs for 2015.

What was the experience of playing Taste of Chicago 2014 like?

The folks at Taste of Chicago were nothing but professional and friendly in every interaction, both prior to the gig through email communication and on the day of, from soundcheck to the end of our set. We were very impressed with the whole experience. It's been a highlight for us thus far for sure!

Where can fans see you next?

We have quite a few house concerts on the books this fall and winter. House concerts are invite-only events where we play for a small crowd (typically in a living room) and provide a more intimate experience for fans than at other type of public venues. Our website has a detailed guide to house concerts on it for anyone who might be curious or interested in one. We're working up to playing some festivals in the Midwest next summer, and those dates will be announced as they come. - Sonicbids


"Stone & Snow Is Happy Singing Sad Songs"

Stone & Snow is a duo. But it took a village -- virtual and otherwise -- to bring the new CD "These Are The Hills" into the world. Between them, Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson wrote all or part of all of the songs. They put together a band for the studio recording. Hired a studio, including a producer, mixing engineer, recording engineer and mastering engineer. There's even a lot of attention paid to the CD cover design. You'll see the CD at their release party tomorrow night at 8 at Six Strings in Bloomington. They could afford a few extras because of the virtual village that funded it. More on that after WGLT's Mike McCurdy talks with the duo about their creative process. - See more at: http://wglt.org/wireready/news/2014/06/01240_06-19StoneSnow_145642.shtml - WGLT Radio


"The Castle Theatre Music Room"

"Stone & Snow walked onto the stage at 8 p.m., opening with their classic folk vibes and mellow tunes. The crowd swayed along to the beat during the more than enjoyable performance. Stone & Snow’s upbeat songs set the mood for the rest of the night." - Rebecca Swanson-Guerra


"Do You Know Stone & Snow?"

One of my favorite bands featuring some of my favorite people has been making the rounds around Central Illinois, but they are too good and too professional to stay “local” for long. Stone & Snow is a folky quartet featuring some of the best songwriting and musicianship I’ve heard in a long time. Check out their incredibly nice website and listen to some their incredibly nice music, for free.

Check out their website & music here.

Or watch (an impressively high quality) live recording of them here. - Nick Rynerson


"Stone & Snow: An Internet Match Built on Trust & Respect"

Audio-based interview located at the URL provided. - WGLT Radio


Discography

"Love is a Weapon", July 12, 2019

"Devil That I Know", May 6, 2016

"Live @ Land of Nod Farm" EP, August 28, 2015

"These Are The Hills", June 17, 2014

"Western Spy" EP, August 20 2013

Photos

Bio

Winner of The 2019 John Lennon Songwriting Contest NAMM Show Sonicbids exclusive opportunity for "Love is a Weapon".

"If Florence and the Machine made folk music, it might sound a little like Stone & Snow." --Katie Anastas, NPR Music

"Their rich vocal harmonies and warm vibe will leave you wanting to see more from this Illinois-based duo." --American Songwriter Magazine

Stone & Snow is an alt-folk pairing of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson. In 2012, they began a collaboration filled with close harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. They gave it a name that gives nod to the mountain landscapes of the West-- Stone & Snow.

Successful crowdfunding campaigns resulted in three self-produced full-length studio albums: Love is a Weapon (July 12, 2019), Devil That I Know (May 6, 2016,) and These are the Hills(June 17, 2014). All three albums were recorded by David Rossi of Bombsight Recording Studio (Bloomington, IL). Love is a Weapon was mastered by Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room (Fort Collins, CO). Devil That I Know and These Are The Hills were mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room (Chicago, IL).

Their songs have taken them on the road to places like Summer Camp Music Festival (Chillicothe, IL), Mile of Music Festival (Appleton, WI), the NAMM Show (Anaheim, CA) and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.

Karen and Clint are co-creators of a micro-venue with Chris Gray and Joel Hunter of Half Hazard PressThe Hallowed Hall is a 50-seat listening room in Bloomington, Illinois. An acoustically beautiful room, The Hallowed Hall affords guests an intimate musical experience. All guests receive a poster designed by Half Hazard Press. Many of the performances at The Hallowed Hall sell-out in advance, and it’s the only dedicated listening room in Bloomington-Normal.

Available to perform as a duo or full band.

Band Members