My love affair with music has a long history. It’s one of deep life-changing love. Complete with heartache and devastation. I have been a Rolling Stones fan for more than four decades. But even before they rocked my world at 9, I was already hooked on music. I favored country music at first and leaned into some blues.
I was first devastated at age seven when Elvis died. I cried and lost sleep for months. I prayed and pleaded to God to bring him back. I remember pleading with Him, that I would be sooooo good! FOREVER! I remember telling him He could skip being good to me for Christmas and birthdays, just bring Elvis back to sing again. PLEEEEEEEEEEASE! To mess with me, along came the TV show Inside Edition, with reports of Elvis sightings.
Today in music history, Stevie Ray Vaughan was born to this earth. In memory of my favorite musical influence, I will honor the 65th anniversary of his birth with one final music blog, before retiring this site and my efforts.
SRV is a pivotal figure in my journey because he excited my soul and inspired my truest dreams. I loved The Stones for most of my life. I would learn who Stevie was, as it was reported in a Rolling Stones fan club newsletter. Beggars Banquet published by Bill Graham. He reported in 1982 about Stevie Ray and the band attending a party that The Stones hosted.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble was an act that The Stones considered signing for launching their own label. Rolling Stones Records. It was really Jackson Browne and David Bowie, however, that truly launched his career. Nonetheless, I found out about him just before he broke out into the world, via the Rolling Stones.
I was also blessed to have had an older boyfriend at the time, who took me to concerts nearly every weekend. We saw SRV often and at General Admission shows where I sauntered up to the front row, year after year. Some people went to movies, but Barry and I worked on his cars and sought out live music for six years of my young life. Since I was underage, concerts were a good way to go… until I scored a fake ID. I was watching live music in bars by the age of 16. I was happy to drink coke or ginger ale and dance all night!
Stevie was the first celebrity that I reached out to with fan mail. I wrote him a 4-page letter in April of 1990. I never got a response to my letter, as he passed in August of that year. But interestingly enough, I feel I got a reply a few years later.
In November 1993 I found a draft copy of that letter while moving. I stopped dead in my tracks when I came across it and sat silently in my room on the floor and read every word. In the letter, I talked about wanting to write his story and spelled out my wish to tour with the band as their personal journalist. By the time I finished reading it, I felt like my dreams died with him in a fiery crash, I was so broken up! I had enough tears flowing from my soul to put out a fire. I sobbed so hard my husband came to see what was wrong with me.
Later that week in the Fall of 1993, I was faced with finding an intern position. On Thursday afternoon, I stopped at O’Johnnies, a Hallmark/ Newsstand store in Clark NJ. I was there to pick up a copy of The Aquarian Weekly. The Stones on the cover and an article inside about SRV were all mentioned. I brought that magazine to my teacher the next morning on deadline day and told her I wanted to serve as an intern at that paper. I was the editor of our community college newspaper and a DJ for the in-house station. And now I was 24 and ready to rock n roll, as I reached for my Associate’s Degree in Communications/Liberal Arts.
My communications director at Union County College in Cranford, NJ, Susan Stock, set me up for an interview in mid-January and on February 4, 1994. I started living my dreams as an intern for the local weekly rock mag. A publication that I read each week for nearly a decade. The Aquarian Weekly was first published the year I was born and it still rocks the NJ scene. I was hired during the 25th Anniversary of the publication and wrote Bea Flattte, Boogie and Blues, and lots of other contributing pieces. Working for the publisher of Arts Weekly, James Rensenbrink, under the direction of Editor Bob Makin, exposed me to a life I loved.
Before it was over I gave them rockers a bit of the blues and enjoyed many great life moments! One of the greatest moments on the local music scene happened for me at a blues bar, in the northwest corner of NJ and it was a shape-shifter of a day. From that Sunday, April 17, 1994, until I left in 2005 for a life in NC, I stayed wrapped up in the blues, courtesy of one bad-ass six-string slinger named, Young Gun.
Ted Wielgopolski would become known to the scene as Teddy Young and he was the Ace of my world for the rest of my days in the Northeast region.
Young is the first slinger that rocked me with B B King’s “Everyday, I Have The Blues.” That song has been my blues anthem almost as long as “Honky Tonk Women” has been my rock trademark!
Getting over Teddy Young and The Aces is something I never seem to be done with. As though it was a divine plan or something. I am not sure, but I sense the day will come that the blues will return to rock my life again like the blessing it is.
Music is in me, even though I don’t play it or have any desire to play it. I can’t shut that off, that love or passion, and I can’t ever turn my back to it for long. It has always thrilled my heart and soothed my soul on a level comparable to none.
Without further ado, welcome to our final trip around the state. As I see it, this has been another chapter in my musical journey. A journey that will surely continue after some time passes. As for wrapping up this Volume of life, it’s been a long few weeks for me as I try and gather my thoughts for this piece.
I have spent most of that time in deep reflection, as I mull over all of the averages of this blog. I signed up for WordPress in October 2013. The first year I used it as a release to write about life, off-air on social media. A lot of time and love was given to the world around me via this site, but only as I got over my divorce and on with my life.
In all, the average blog entry saves as a 43-page file. And it took about 43 hours a week to compose just one blog. I turned The Tracey Stones Zone, into a music site in 2015. The North Carolina Music Zone happened just hours before my first radio interview in July 2016. Following that early morning phone interview with John Jones, I began using the Acronym NCMZ.LIVE from there on, hoping that it would catch on…no one ever remembered it.
When I picked out the site, I opted for the .live over .com because I liked the uniqueness of its accuracy. In all, there were 395 entries supporting live music around our state that were published right here. I personally contributed more than 20,000 pages complete with pictures and videos of local artists and wrote stories to support the work. I then grabbed random gig announcements and wrote a recap of live music found around the state. All stories focused on music promotions were created for NC’s local scene, penned over the course of 4.5 years.
By March 2017 I established Tracey Stones Productions, LLC and was accepting income opportunities in the arena of music promotions. I developed a plan and created a website and modified the plan often, and then all the drawings and dreams came to a crashing halt when waves crashed over and wiped out all of the income the blog made, just 17 months later in September 2018.
Over the course of four and a half years of my reporting on the scene, I made my way to most corners of the state, in a vehicle that could have been sponsored by businesses with logos seen all over the scene. Instead, it costs me more than I can afford now. It could have been wrapped up by the main sponsor and seen on the scene most nights of the week. The opportunities sure seemed endless in my mind.
And therein lies the problem, I was content with building it slowly and working towards a major goal. But when Florence came raging through this town I call home, it changed my life in ways I am still grasping. No, my home was not washed away. But most of my income sources were gone. I lost 23 house cleaning customers and the only two venues that I had commissions booked at in town, shut down. It truly ended, September 14, 2018.
The fact is, I lost two businesses. I still struggle with saying that, as I am a survivor of life. Nonetheless, that is what Florence took from me. I am still capable of bouncing back and hope to, but seeing how there is little support for this product that demands much of my time, this is now nothing more than a dream gone bust!
The advertising was so affordable but so few accepted or embraced it. $25 a month! My work generated my worth but you can’t make people pay you what you’re worth if they see no value in what you do. In the end, I was told by a member of my community that I have severely over-inflated my worth to the town I promoted the most. That was tough to swallow, given the fact that I created this site for the benefit of others, not myself. I just wanted to write and chose music as my topic of interest.
To me, this is just another heartbreak, in a long line of heartache I have experienced with music. I worked hard to create something unique, but must accept that it was not worthy and wonder who will miss whom first! I leave here knowing that I did my job. The job which I created for myself, by the way! I gave it everything I had and for nearly zero compensation for more than four years. I took people to the moon and halfway home in mileage on my sweet Yukon, my music bus! I have gone broke chasing music in her company. But doing it for the readers was always worth it!
I leave here knowing that I was more dedicated than most because no matter what anyone tells you, I led the charge with the beats of my heart. A heart full of passion produces creative worth if, again, you can reveal the value in your creation for others to see. Building something from nothing is not something many even set out to do. At this point I am feeling quite defeated, but knowing me, I am sure I will go off and build something bigger, to suit more. I am proud of my work here. I connected thousands of people. Next time I shall strive for the millions. For now, I just think to myself a lot and sometimes I even hear myself say things out loud like, “Too bad the idea was not truly embraced! I was really into the blogging gig.”
I can tell you that it was so much more than just a 20-minute piece that people read each week, twice a week. It was endless hours of thinking and creating, sleepless hours writing. Now there is just a whole lot of file saving going on in my world before the site gets deleted in the middle of the month. Facing that makes my heart aches with pain I assume no one can understand. This blog was my baby. My creation.
Now that we reached this point, I am at a loss. I never yet planned for this part of the journey…as this was my exit plan from the cleaning world into the music world. There is one angle about the blog, that I never much considered. That is, that this is the only history of my written works that I have no tangible copies on record, not in a box or file. I have boxes of my published works, and I have happily been lugging them around for 30 years, but this site dwarfs those efforts. That will all definitely work its way into the next business plan, and early in the developmental stages of the said plan.
For now, I just wish to hide in the corner and rebuild myself and my worth. I still have an awesome cleaning company worthy of our efforts. And people pay me top dollar to help them with housework, so now scrubbing toilets is my life work. I am fine with scrubbing shit, I am just not good at taking it from people. And this business offers more than its fair share of shit stains, trust me.
I have a lot of stories from all my travels in life. This has just been another well-scribed chapter. From the bumps in the road, the mistakes made and the hard lessons learned; there are lots of stories to share. I can even mix it up and scribe things about motherhood and raising my son, my life as a music journalist, being an entrepreneur, wading through life in survivor mode. Characters are always as interesting here just as the life I am blessed to live.
Of course be warned, people say my stories are loaded with my half-truths. HA! I would only hope so. I would only want to interpret things as I see them. That is part of my platform and personal ethics. You would have to have those to even understand it, is what I noticed along the way. To me, people are ridiculous, so I am getting over it all and looking for the next adventure that excludes volunteer work for unappreciative half-wits and the over-exaggerated egos filling a scene that has little to offer in the grand scheme of things. I learned a valuable lesson doing this here. I rose to the challenges of it being the most lackluster place I have ever lived for live music.
That is not to insult anyone, that is just the facts. When I started sharing music news before bringing it to the blog, I would post each Thursday a rundown for the weekend and it contained two or three events. Five years later, I would get a weekly reply of 50-100 people sharing where they were playing in the days ahead! The scene grew quicker than I expected and I worked hard to keep up with it all.
You are only good if you can do something for people. People have pointed out my true worth and now I deem they are not worthy of all of this effort I put forth. Rule Number One in my world is: “You can do what you want but stay off of my blue suede shoes.”
I ended each blog with a number to call for advertising. I also ended with a tip jar. I accumulated more tips in one year then I did in advertising over the course of 4.5 years. Those of you that did support my efforts and saw the dream; Thank you! I wish we could go on dreaming about this life some more, but the cards revealed that jokers are wild and bloggers are not to be taken seriously. I try to remember Jesus wasn’t always taken seriously and try to keep the faith! I am grateful for the joy and the experience.
Thanks for reading. I hope we get to dance again soon.
Signing off for the last time, with deep love in my heart and music in my soul!
~Tracey Stones has left the building!!
PS Donations and tips are still greatly appreciated during this rebuilding phase.