For over seven years, the alternative folk group Stone & Snow has been building a career one step at a time.
The collaboration began with Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson finding each other via a Craigslist musician’s classified.
The songwriters and multi-instrumentalists built a musical rapport that capitalizes on a close-harmony vocal sound. Even when the harmonies didn’t come naturally, Bridges used her formal musical training to help the self-taught Thomson slide into his part.
“She had me do exercises because she was trying to figure out what my (vocal) range was,” Thomson says of the duo’s early rehearsals. Bridges would then record potential harmony parts for Thomson to try out.
After finding their voice as a duo act, the pair expanded their sound with a rhythm section. They locally produced some records and looked for more opportunities to find listeners. One of those opportunities was an online contest.
By entering, and then winning, the International John Lennon Songwriter’s Contest, the pair gained more exposure.
The contest win with the song “Love is a Weapon” gave Stone & Snow name recognition with new fans.
“When we needed to raise funds to make a high quality recording we could say, ‘Hey you love this song, please support us,’” Bridges says. “There is that freedom in doing it all yourself and DIY. Having your fans be a part of it and support you and elevate you. They’re giving you that vote of confidence which helps propel you forward.”
The latest iteration of the group’s DIY mentality extends to their bookings as well. Bridges says that just like finding the perfect space to record, they took it upon themselves to develop a new space to perform: a “micro venue” called The Hallowed Hall, located in downtown Bloomington’s Half Hazard Press.
“We’ve made our own opportunities in a way. We started a micro venue with Half Hazard Press called Hallowed Hall. We’re coordinating booking the talent. And that’s allowed us to have additional exposure,” says Bridges. “We have wanted to cultivate a listening room venue in Bloomington-Normal for probably the entire time we’ve been making music together. We share a feeling that’s really the best way to experience music: when you can really get up close and listen to it.”
The Hallowed Hall is the venue for the release party celebrating their ambitious new album, titled after their breakthrough song “Love is a Weapon.” The record shows off a side of the group that extends beyond their beginnings as a duo.
“When we play as an acoustic duo I feel much folkier,” said Thomson. “But when we play with our bandmates, I don’t. I feel a little more rock and roll.”
Stone & Snow performs Thursday, July 11, at The Hallowed Hall in downtown Bloomington. The band's new album “Love is a Weapon” is available July 10.
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