Trey Stone Band plays Sunday at Bill’s (w/video)
First there was the British Invasion. Now Trey Stone and other U.S. soul artists are taking over Britain.
Stone, of South Lake Tahoe, reunited with a longtime musical collaborator, Joe Harris, and Steve Calloway to perform a short tour in the U.K. as the Fabulous Peps, a 1960s band of which Harris is an original member. American soul music is extremely popular in Britian, and the Peps were treated like “rock stars,” Stone said.
The Trey Stone Band opens for Fishbone at Bar 24 inside Bill’s Casino on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 24.
An upbeat Stone clearly is rejuvenated and excited to take a new direction with his band, which includes drummer John “8-Track” Belanger, keyboardist Terry Ogg and new bass player Art Rodriguez, a veteran Tahoe R&B rocker. Former bassist Greg Noonberg has moved to Fernley, Nev.
“We’ve started to do things I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Stone said. “It’s more of a late-’60s, early-’70s R&B style. It’s not as much Rick James, but it’s still P-Funk and a lot of Jimi Hendrix.”
The Hendrix style should mix well with Fishbone, a band that emphasizes guitar along with a heavy dose of fun.
Stone said the first concert he ever attended was Hendrix. Hendrix, from Seattle, didn’t achieve widespread recognition until he went to the U.K. and added a British drummer and bass player to his band. Stone felt the love in England, too.
Stone has collaborated on songwriting projects continuously with Harris ever since his time with the Undisputed Truth. The 1971 song “Smiling Faces Sometimes,” which ascended to No. 3 on the Billboard chart, featured Harris’ baritone. The Undisputed Truth also was the first group to record “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” According to music.com, Motown producer Whitfield, upon realizing the song’s potential, had the Temptations record it in 1972, and it went all the way to No. 1.
Harris, Stone and Calloway had no idea how well they would be received in Britain, especially when they performed as the Fabulous Peps, a Temptations-style band with the singers making choreographed dance moves up front.
“I felt naked without my guitar,” Stone admitted.
Stone said he was startled when he entered an English pub and the patrons were singing a Fabulous Peps song.
“Northern soul (Motown) is very popular now in England,” Stone said. “So is Southern Soul: James Brown, P-Funk, the Ohio Players. Every other club there is a soul club. I heard it was big, but I didn’t know how big it was.”
The trio did an interview and sang on the air with the BBC and met with fans who, as Internet posts and YouTube videos prove, were awestruck.
On one video in advance of the show, a woman says, “For 15 quid you get to see America’s Fabulous Peps for an all-nighter. I can’t believe you can get into something so great for so little.”
The “all-nighter” was at the Brooksfield Club in Wolverhampton. Stone was amazed at the reaction to they songs he sang from an album more than 40 years old.
“The fans’ appreciation for this music was unbelievable,” Stone said. “I’d been to England eight to 10 times with Bootsy Collins and Deee-Lite and P-Funk, but never have I been treated like this. These folks are just crazy about this music.”
Posts on Soul Source Rare and Northern Soul Forum read: “Where do I start ” so many wonderful things to say about the Fabulous Peps. Three guys, Joe, Steve, Trey, that have brought so much happiness and love to a lot of people with their short stay in England. And one that will never be forgotten.” Another post said, “There was a buzz about the place that I hadn’t felt at an all-nighter for years. It was like a static charge in the air … an anticipation that something fantastic was about to happen … AND BOY DID IT EVER!”
Next week: Joe Harris talks about the British tour, his longtime friend Trey Stone and their days with Motown and the bands Rose Royce and the Undisputed Truth, and the future of the Fabulous Peps.
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