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Family Stone at Sound Board, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2019

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Sly Stone's music endures -- and so does the Family Stone.

The continuing group only has one original member, saxophonist, Jerry Martini, but it's still making people "Dance to the Music" by playing the group's iconic and revolutionary hits. Sly & the Family Stones blend of rock, soul, funk, jazz and more made it unlike any other band during its run from 1966 to the mid-70s, and songs such as "Everyday People," "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again)" and "Family Affair" were hugely influential and sound as fresh and relevant now than they did 40-plus years ago.

Martini, 77, proudly leads the Family Stone now, with a stated mission to keep the music and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame troupe's legacy alive -- and well...

• Martini says that he started the Family Stone "because I love Sly's songs. I love the words. The people love it, and it's been my life for over 50 years. These songs have not only stood the test of time, but they still apply. They're forever lyrics, and the young people are still feeling the same way when they hear them. We're getting a whole new generation of people who really love it."

• It was Martini who suggested to Sly Stone that he put together a band back in 1965. "We were teenagers together and played in cover bands around the san Francisco Bay Area. I used to go over to his house and he would come out with this big songbook and all these words and everything, and I'd go, 'My God...' He was really in tune with what was happening that time in his life. I said 'Y'know, why don't we start a band?' He said, 'I'll let you know when I'm ready,' and he did. He sent this girl to my house who said, 'Sly said he's ready...'"

• One of Sly & the Family Stone's legendary performances was at the inaugural Woodstock Music and Arts Festival 50 years ago, where the group went on in the early morning and electrified the crowd that was estimated at more than 400,000 people. "After we started rolling they got out of their sleeping bags and they all started lighting whatever it is they lit," Martini recalls. "It was before Bics and before cell phone. they were just lighting matches or whatever and when they started moving it looked like actual waves of people and it looked kind of surreal. It was amazing -- it wasn't just the drugs. There were so many people and they were all in tune and feeling it. I've never experienced anything like that before or, actually, after that."

• Key to the Family Stone crew now is vocalist Phunne Stone (aka Raw Syl), the daughter of Sly Stone and the late Family Stone trumpeter Cynthia Robinson. "She has Sly's personality -- really charismatic, really funny," Martini says. "I'm grooming her to take over the whole thing after I retire, which won’t' be much longer. I'm gonna go for a few more years, but she's the right one to leave it to."

• As for Sly Stone himself -- known for his public substance abuse issues and erratic behavior -- Martini says the 76-year-ld is "in his home. Phunne goes and visits him all the time. Much to most people’s surprise he's still alive. He's outlives a lot of people that thought he should've gone a long time ago. He's not real well, but he's still sharp. He was my idol, and I still feel the same way about him. He's still the person who created all this stuff, no matter what happened to him."

The Family Stone performs with Tower of Power at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. $42-$55. 313-309-4614 or soundboarddetroit.com.

Web Site: www.soundboarddetroit.com

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