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Stonebelly brings full sound to Columbia

Nebraska trio blends genres

May 9, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Stonebelly members Scott Dworak, Mike Hollon and Kevin Korus enjoy experimenting with genres and using instruments they’ve never tried before. Lead singer Hollon says that their sophomore album will incorporate the harmonica. Photo courtesy of Stonebelly

On a Wednesday in april, Mike Hollon tweets a picture of the sun shining through his window onto a table covered with sheets of paper, a pen and a baritone ukulele. The caption reads, “Great day for writing ...”


Where: The Bridge
When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Cost: $5–8
Call: 442-9627

Lyrics by Hollon, the lead singer and guitar player for Stonebelly, express a restlessness and desire to find one’s own path. On the song “Go,” he sings, “I just need to listen to what’s in my heart/I’ve got to go.”

Living up to these words, the Lincoln, Neb., power trio has been making its own way and refusing to limit itself to a single sound. Hollon’s experimentation with a ukulele, an instrument he previously disliked, shows commitment to sonic diversity.

Despite having only two other members — Kevin Korus on drums and vocals and Scott Dworak on bass guitar — the band strives for a full sound and dabbles in a variety of genres. Its 2012 debut album, Free Spirit: Lost Soul, incorporates rock, blues, jazz, reggae and psychedelia.

Hollon calls genre bending on songs such as “Stiletto” a necessity. Over the course of the song, Stonebelly transitions from a reggae riff and funky bass line to a zany electric guitar distortion. Many bands today don’t stick to one genre but instead choose to combine musical styles. Doing so is difficult with only three musicians, but Stonebelly keeps things original with the resources it has. Members use a variety of guitar effects, and when one moves into the musical background, another steps into the spotlight.

“There’s a lot of space in the music that we have to be cognizant of,” Dworak says. “It’s really important that we play off each other to fill the space.”

If Dworak lays into a bass solo, Hollon fills in with the rhythm. When Hollon wants to pull away from the microphone to jam, Korus takes over on vocals.

Billy Eltiste, a friend of the band and guitarist and singer for Cornerstone Dub, thinks a power trio is a perfect configuration. “It’s all you need,” he says. “You can confuse music when you have too much going on.”

Although many bands feature as many as six or seven members, Stonebelly doesn’t see its lineup as a disadvantage. It’s actually helpful for a smaller band with financial limits.

Stuffing everyone and everything into one van –– no problem. The same goes for a single hotel room. Every penny counts because the band invests all revenue back into its success. The compact model is a blessing in disguise.

Stonebelly is recording its second album, which doesn’t have a title yet but is being recorded at Fuse Recording, a Lincoln studio that doesn’t come cheap.

The members previously paid to record in a home studio but decided to switch to Fuse because they wanted something more professional. Their first time working in a studio was a valuable learning experience but also an expensive one.

“If you’re going to spend the money, you might as well do it once,” Hollon says.

Hollon’s ukulele material might or might not appear on the record. Deciding whether it makes the album will be clear cut because there’s one more advantage to having a three-man band.

Votes never end in ties.

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