Shawn Inlow has been doing music and theater for a long time, but has never been able to combine them in the way he’s always dreamed of. Until now.
When his original art-rock project, Stone Man, debuts at CAST on Saturday night, March 23, the long-time CAST director and actor figures to realize a dream that has been years in the making.
“I’ve been after this for a long time,” said Inlow. “I directed a one-man show called ‘Vincent’ back in the 80’s where we used a novel way of projecting imagery.
“That show never left my mind and I’ve been experimenting ever since with how to get that look into an original rock show.”
The challenges were immense.
“First, you have to find musicians who believe in doing an original project,” said Inlow.
The band includes pianist Steve Dixon of Curwensville, who is co-writer with Inlow on a song cycle called “Heartbreaks and Promises” that is to feature in the performance.
The rest of the band includes Jason Sopic, also of Curwensville, on drums, Rich “Doc” Horton of Clearfield on keyboards and Nick Miller of Huntingdon on guitars.
“It’s a hell of a bunch of pros,” says Inlow, who typifies the band’s style as ‘piano driven rock’, but “Maybe of a style all our own.”
Having written the material and found the musicians willing to go there, the next hurdle is to make believers of an audience. That’s where CAST comes in.
“CAST’s audiences are open to new experiences. It is wonderful to have the support of such an arts center in our town,” said Inlow, who has been a big part of recent CAST successes.
He hopes to carry over the technical style of his shows like “The Buddy Holly Story,” “Rock of Ages” and “Nevermore” to Stone Man.
“Most bands today don’t care what they look like,” said Inlow. “What the lighting is. What the story is. My goal, when an audience leaves a Stone Man performance, is to hear the audience telling their friends, ‘Did you SEE that?’”
To get the look right, Inlow is enlisting the help of a number of professional artists to storyboard original songs and create visuals that make those songs stick in the imagination.
“I want to use original art as much as I can to create – not necessarily music videos – but images that drive home the ideas behind the songs. Maybe the songs will give the visuals impact and the visuals will make the songs impactful,” said Inlow.
Inlow says he’s collaborating with friends Nip Rogers (from New York) and April Ward (from Pittsburgh) and hopes to draw more graphic artists into the project.
“I can’t pay them right now, so everything they do I’m just so grateful for,” said Inlow. “But once they hear the demos, the songs seem to set off a lot of images for them and I get these really cool pieces of original work back from these massively talented people.”
“We’re doing a lot more than just playing music here,” says Inlow. “We’re showing you some real original thought and design. Some original art. And we hope to make you think and laugh and feel.”
Stone Man is using Wise Choice Video to do a live recording of the show, so Inlow hopes to fill the house.
“You can be in a Stone Man video. Just think that through,” says Inlow with a big smile.
Tickets are $8 and can be ordered online at www.clearfieldarts.org or purchased at the door on the night of the event. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
The Clearfield Arts Studio Theatre Inc. (CAST) is located at 112 E Locust St., in the heart of downtown Clearfield.