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Tommy Stinson, of The Replacements and Guns N' Roses, plays house show in Roanoke By Tad Dickens [email protected] 777-6474 Feb 28, 2020
He played bass guitar in arenas and stadiums with metal phenomenon Guns N’ Roses. He did the same in dive bars, ballrooms and the occasional arena with rakish rock ’n’ rollers The Replacements.
On Sunday, Tommy Stinson is playing a house show in Roanoke, solo, with an acoustic guitar. And he can’t hardly wait.
Stinson’s recent itinerary of unusual tour stops includes a record store, video store (“I wonder if we’re playing an adult video store,” he said, with a nicotine laugh. They’re not.), bike shop and an animal hospital. He and his opening act, Dave Ashdown, aka Dashdown, were headed to that veterinary building, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when The Roanoke Times made phone contact last week.
Stinson said that a friend from the Guns N’ Roses days saw his online pitch for gigs on a house show tour and decided to enlist the vet she worked for, to host the show there.
“So I’m playing an animal hospital, because I can, because I get to,” he said with a laugh.
Not that it will be too loud. Stinson’s output — including albums “Village Gorilla Head” and “One Man Mutiny,” the band Bash & Pop and duo Cowboys In The Campfire — can rock out, but Stinson doesn’t always need a P.A. system.
“A lot of times, I’ll put on my acoustic guitar and just walk around the room playing stuff,” he said. “And I’ll be honest with you, playing these intimate shows ... pays three times what any stupid, sh---y, 100-seat nightclub pays. ... And people seem to like the intimacy of it.”
The Replacements, a band of near-feral kids from Minneapolis who succeeded more at influencing other rock acts than in building their own career, have a fan in recent Patrick Henry High School graduate Reid Jepson. The 18-year-old said that a friend had turned him on to the band’s 1984 album, “Let It Be.”
“I was like, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard,” Jepson said. “Then I listened to everything else.”
Jepson, who plays drums for a young local group called Orange Culture, started following Stinson. He saw the same social media notification that Stinson’s Myrtle Beach friend saw, and he put in a pitch for his family’s basement.
“A couple weeks later I got a message, like, can we do March 1? Oh, yes, we can,” Jepson said.
When Stinson learned about Jepson’s drumming background, he immediately hatched a plan to reach out and get him to jam. At press time, Jepson was looking for some other players to join in.
Jepson doesn’t see himself as a concert entrepreneur. He simply wanted to put on a show to see one of his heroes play.
“They asked me what we wanted for it, and I said nothing,” he said. “This is just cool enough for me.”
Stinson knows about being a kid in a rock band. His older brother, Bob Stinson, formed a basement band with Tommy and drummer Chris Mars when the younger brother was not yet a teen. Another neighborhood dropout, Paul Westerberg, heard them playing, and they started The Replacements. Numerous books and print articles have recounted the booze-and-drug fueled, vandalistic and self-sabotaging run that the band went through between 1979 and 1991.
Westerberg and Tommy Stinson both spent significant time with author Bob Mehr, who wrote what critics acknowledge as the definitive book on the band, “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.” Stinson said he didn’t read it, and didn’t gain any perspective from telling Mehr his part of the story.
“It was enough to tell the story that I had lived, so I didn’t need to read the book to hear about the story that I’d already lived and all that,” he said. “You’re talking a bunch of anecdotes about a drunken mess of a band f-----g making their way from corner to corner trying to figure out what the f--- we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
Stinson played with Guns N’ Roses from 1998 to 2014, after which his personal life as a stay-at-home dad prevented him from touring at that level. He said that it was a positive experience. He is still friends with everyone in that camp, and there is not enough dirt to talk about, despite the many queries he receives.
Ultimately, he said, he prefers smaller stages than the ones that Guns, and sometimes The ’Mats, played on.
“After not being in it for a while, I don’t miss that level of rock show at all.”
His trip to Roanoke will be the complete opposite.
“And you know what’s fun? I actually get paid to come out here and have fun on my own terms now, and you just can’t beat that, you really can’t, after 40 years, and I certainly haven’t thought of a f------ way to beat it.”
Go to this story at roanoke.com/entertainment/music to read more from The Roanoke Times’ interview with Stinson.
So what's a culture to do when faced with such a troublemaker? When someone is too popular, too powerful, too talented, too demanding, too avant garde, too loud, too in your face and too larger than life? What are we to do with such an irritant, especially when he’s right? Silence him.Vilify him.Ridicule him.Make him irrelevant.Mock him.Humiliate him. Nullify him.Crucify him.Lock him up. Hamstring him.But above all—dehumanize him.