Kennewick musician Dayton Stone is writing songs we all need to hear right now.
His short stories almost exclusively about pretty girls set to soft strums on an acoustic are filled with an innocence you just don’t hear about when hard times are seemingly here to stay.
But extracting where this innocence lies in Stone isn’t easy. You see, the 20-year-old singer/songwriter has walked a bumpy path since his graduation from Southridge High School in 2007.
Soon after he walked up on stage and felt the slap of a fresh diploma against his hand he took off Chris McCandless-style to South Carolina to join a commune called The Cause. He spent a few months there living off the land with a bunch of rag-tag hippies only to realize it wasn’t for him. He then fulfilled a high school pact to move to SoCal with friends only to be one of the few who actually paid rent on a place secured only by a naive dream. Reality soon set in, the money was gone and a return home to his parents was the only option.
I watched a recent set Stone put on at Hastings in Kennewick (where he also works) with handful of friends settled in to watch. You’d think with all these slamming doors Stone’s songs would be weighed down by reality.
But they’re not.
Each of the 10 or so songs he played were rooted in a time before all this happened, almost as if it never did. Like I said earlier, he’s the sun and all those pretty girls are just in orbit. U.S. 395 recounts the not-so-simple act of telling a girl he loves her for the first time while traveling the same nearby highway that cuts through his heart much the same way it does the Tri-Cities.
Home details the struggle of high school sweethearts torn apart when college comes calling. And in Savannah he sings the chorus “For all the shots cupid missed, he sure got us pegged.”
Stone got an early start with music in church (his father’s a pastor) though it was only recently when he picked up a guitar and started writing songs on his own. He still lacks a bit of confidence when he’s center stage, but he’s got a breezy delivery and smart song structure that draws you in.
It’s just too bad we won’t get to see him grow. He says he’s going to move with his parents to Austin in the next few months. Innocence comes up again. He speaks about Austin like immigrants speak of the promises of America.
“I hear you can make a living and raise a family out there on music alone.”