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Courtyard Concert Series | Mike Dee and Stone Trio

Mike Dee’s first show with Stone Trio, at Soundpony in January, was supposed to be his last before retiring from rapping. Fortunately for us all, he had such a good time at that show that he decided to postpone his retirement indefinitely.

Dee’s talents are undeniable. You can’t help but be captivated by his presence and energy, which builds to a fever pitch whenever he’s behind a mic. That energy is matched and heightened by Stone Trio, who, for those counting, are no longer a trio, with drummer Andrew Bones, guitarist Chris Combs, bassist Bo Hallford, and saxophonist Andy McCormick. The band concocts spiraling grooves around Dee’s tracks, pushing him further than a backing track ever could and digging into the power behind his words.

When Dee and the band played the Courtyard (in what now holds the record for loudest Courtyard Concert to date) he talked about music that offers perspective, the incomparability of Zack de la Rocha, and shaking hands with a legend. 

First song you could rap all the words to: The Wu-Tang song “Triumph:” “I bomb atomically. Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses can’t define how I be droppin’ these mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery.” That’s the first one I remember being able to do and saying, “Yeah, that’s the joint.”

First song learned on guitar: Man, the first stuff I learned on guitar was the cheesiest stuff ever. What was I playing? Coldplay, “Yellow.” I was a cheesy guitar player.

Last song played on Spotify: “Pasadena” featuring Vic Mensa by Donnie Trumpet.

Desert island discs: Three albums I could listen to for my duration on the island. Lately I’ve been jamming the mess out of Malibu from Anderson Paak. I would throw that one in. Also, Shades of Blue by Madlib, and the self-titled Rage Against the Machine album.

Best show ever seen in Tulsa: Run the Jewels at the Yeti.

Most anticipated upcoming show: I was thinking about going to that Rage Against the Machine, Chuck D, Cypress Hill show [Prophets of Rage]. I was thinking about it; then I realized Zack [de la Rocha] wasn’t going to be there. I don’t know how I feel about that. I just can’t hear the songs being done by anyone else but Zack. And I like all of their voices, they’re very distinct. Chuck D has a powerful voice. But none of them can do what Zack does. That’s his lane, and he created that lane for himself. I’m probably not going. I haven’t seen a Rage Against the Machine concert, ever, and that’s one of my dream concerts. Hopefully one day they’ll do something and Zack will be involved.

Most memorable show played: The one with Rakim [at The Venue Shrine]. I don’t remember what I did, I just remember meeting Rakim and being like, “This is awesome.” Because he was one of the legends. I just wanted to shake his hand, and I did, and it was dope.

Dream venue: I would love to play at the Cain’s. Every local artist here has that goal of being able to play at Cain’s. 

Non-musical influence: I think a lot of the reason I do the music I do started with my sisters. Trying to create an alternate version of what’s on the radio, to give them another side of the story. ‘Cause all you hear on the radio is “we doin’ this, sex, drugs, we doin’ that.” You know, you don’t have to do that to have a good time. You could just have a good time. They influenced me that way, to want to be a better person.

On playing with Stone Trio: It started when we were just jamming around with GoGo Plumbay. We would do shows with Oilhouse and all of those guys. Then, every once in a while I would rap with one of their other bands and head out. Then I was supposed to retire with the show I played at Soundpony with Stone Trio. But because it was so awesome—because they’re so awesome, I couldn’t stop. I think that’s where I’m gonna go from here on, to try to do as many shows as I can with those guys, ‘til they get tired of me. I love playing with them. I like playing with tracks; it gives you a different feel. But with the live instrumentation, you get more of the emotion that I’m trying to convey in my songs. 

Music: Music is what keeps me going. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be. I really need it. For the most part because it keeps me calm, it keeps me at peace. It’s my way of being able to express myself. It keeps me cool. a

Mike Dee and Stone Trio will play at Soundpony on Friday, August 12 for Animal Names’ album release show.

For more from the Courtyard, watch Wink Burcham play "Cleveland Summer Nights."