Band Profile: Stone Angels

Stone Angels Gloria Martin and Angela MichielsenOakwood Inn
May 18, 19, 20 8pm to 12am

The Stone Angels are Parkhill residents Gloria Martin (lead guitar, percussion and harmony) and Angela Michielsen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard and harmonica).

Interview and photo by Casey Lessard

Personal Style:
A: It seems like I’m attracted to something that’s really authentic and genuine. That transfers into all aspects of my life; not just music – also my personal life choices. It seems to be a whole lifestyle.
G: I’m a really soulful, reflective person. That carries over into my music and my life. I’m interested in the environment and social justice. I love animals and enjoy relating to people.

A: Sarah McLachlan and Jewel definitely influenced my new immersion of music in the last eight years. Before that I was totally into musical theatre. But when I first played guitar I started out strumming Jewel songs and my style has evolved from that.
G: My parents were a big influence; all five of us as children got musical training and we eventually performed as a family. From country and gospel to folk rock and popular music, I have an appreciation for a wide range of music, and that’s reflected in our show. I love music with strong harmonies and groups that harmonize well together.

What people can expect:
A: They can expect to have a good time. We’re not a dance band, but they can expect to be entertained. They can sit back and enjoy and have a more intimate kind of concert.
G: We’ve been told it’s a classy show and that we have really strong vocals. It’s a stripped down show but it’s a really nice sound to listen to. They’ll hear a lot of their favourite songs with a new twist.
A: They know the music, but we add a signature sound that makes it Stone Angels.

Who’s in charge here?
A: I’m in charge of choice of music and arranging. A lot of the creative process is something that happens from us playing together. It’s all a process where we discuss everything.
G: We respect each other’s strengths and we defer to each other’s area of strength. I handle a lot of the business management and the public relations stuff.
What is the most common thing you hear from your audiences?
G: They love our sound.
A: They love the harmonies, love the way we sound together and the selection of music. They always comment that they love what we’ve done with the music.
G: They often comment as well about how professional our show is. They seem to really respect that.

Where was your first show together?
A: At the Grate in Parkhill, actually. We had done some weddings, but our first real venue was the Grate, which was a restaurant.
G: We did a party for our friend Lynn. It was a big birthday bash so the place was just filled. We performed for the night and had a really great reception. The Grate liked what we did and asked whether we wanted to come back and do something on a regular basis. Anj started doing some solo there and I joined in.
A: Singing covers alone can turn into glorified karaoke. Adding the second person allows you to be so much more creative in covering songs. You can add harmonies and two instruments and instrumentation, which helped me a lot with arranging the music.

When did you realize you could do this full-time?
A: We did a buskers’ festival and we had a great reception. We got second place in our first year.
G: We got first at the St. Thomas buskers’ festival the following year. After having a great reception at the Port Stanley buskers’ festival, we approached a small café called Jimmy C’s that had live entertainment. They gave us a regular gig and we got quite a following there and made friends. There we found a guy who was interested in managing us and we made a CD.

Why have you decided to remain in Southwestern Ontario?
A: We both grew up around here, so our families and friends are here. So we both feel comfortable in this area. This is the place we love to be. We’re in a hub; we’re not far away from a lot of things. We can still enjoy country living but we’re close to London, Stratford, Grand Bend and even Toronto. It’s all within driving distance.
G: What is difficult is doing the driving, the hours on the road late at night and all that’s involved in that. We just discovered over the years that that becomes a burnout situation.
You’re competing with all the locals in any of the cities. If they can hire a band and they’re earning the same as us, but we have to drive there, it’s not financially viable. So you want to get something as close to home as possible.
It’s difficult to find a partner whose voice blends well with yours, and when you find that you want to hold onto it. This is where we want to be and it hasn’t been attractive enough to go elsewhere.

Hear samples of the Stone Angels’ music at their website: