MARQUETTE - Guitarist Dave Gonzalez estimates he's traveled a million and a half miles in his years as a touring musician.
That long and winding road will soon lead him back to Marquette for a gig with his band, the Stone River Boys, Wednesday night at Upfront & Co.
It won't be the first time this Austin, Texas-based band has made the journey way north to win new fans with its unique blend of sounds.
Stone River Boys
Red Sea Pedestrians
Seth and May
Upfront & Co.
Wednesday, Aug. 24
Music starts at 9 p.m.
Cover charge: $5
"We have been there a couple of times. We like coming up north," said Gonzalez, the band's co-founder. "The first time I was there was when the Hacienda Brothers' lead singer, Chris Gaffney, was sick, so we went on the road to do a benefit tour for him."
Gonzalez, who was Gaffney's partner in the acclaimed Hacienda Brothers, picked up musicians from Austin's large pool of talent.
"We started the Stone River Boys tours to raise money for a friend. Unfortunately, Chris didn't make it," he said. "We stayed together and we are still together."
Gonzalez said he first learned about the Marquette area when a couple, Steve and Lisa Bigalk, approached him at a Green Bay, Wis., gig.
"Steve and his wife came to see us in Green Bay," Gonzalez said. "He told us he could help get us in this really great club up in Marquette. That's how we first played there."
Now Gonzalez, 50, is looking forward to the long trip for one reason especially: Relief.
"Down here in Austin, we've had 100-degree-plus weather all summer," he said. "I am looking forward to making the drive and getting up there to cool off by that big beautiful lake."
Gonzalez said the Stone River Boys music is unique.
"It's a rootsy sound," he said. "It combines traditional country music sound with vintage rhythm and blues. Sometimes it's hard for people to understand how we mix the sounds we do. It's not like modern country sounds. It's more like George Jones country.
"We like the 60s and 70s sounds. We like those kind of records," he said. "Here in my studio, I have an old turnable and we listen to those records and still learn from them. As I look around, I see all the records I grew up with, Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, BB King, Buck Owens ... the vintage sounds of the greats.
"We're shooting toward that sound," Gonzalez said. "It's a sound people identify with ... We're trying to have a sound combination of a lot of original American roots music."
Along with Gonzalez, the Stone River Boys includes singer Mike Barfield, nicknamed "The Tyrant of Texas Funk"; bassist E. Scott Esbeck; pedal steel guitarist Gary Newcomb; and drummer Mark Patterson.
"We've five piece on tour and six piece in the studio," Gonzalez said. The band's debut CD, "Love on the Dial," will be available for purchase at the Upfront gig.
Gonzalez said the music world has changed in the last few years.
"There are not as many gigs as there used to be," he said. "And getting a record produced and promoted isn't easy any more. The record deals aren't there any more. The kids are doing all their stuff online and the rich musicians have their own deals.
"Our fans are out there," Gonzalez said. "But people don't go out like they used to back in the 80s when I first started playing. Back then, no one had computers. No one even had VCRs. They wanted to go out and dance and hear bands. There are still some good places out there across the country and we will drive to them to play.
"When I get home, I feel lucky that we pulled another tour off."
Still, he loves getting out to promote the record.
"I enjoy meeting new people, seeing new places," Gonzalez said. "Our country is so big and so beautiful. I have been on tour for years, but there are still new roads, new places I want to see."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is email@example.com.