Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Band signed to FAU’s record label puts a new spin on South Florida music scene

FAU indie band, The Stonecutters, take to the stage for a show at The Funky Buddha on Dec. 9, 2011.

They were six friends with a similar taste in music, and the same sense of humor. Then, they came together as a band — by “a happy accident,” as the harmonica player and backup vocalist, Barron van Deusen put it.

And now, the Stonecutters aim to add something new and different, if nothing else, to the folk scene in South Florida.

“There seems to be a lot of chug-a-beer-and-smash-the-can-across-your-head [kind of] music,” said the drummer Jason Hester. “We’re more like the carry-you-up-the-stairs-lay-you-down-and-make-love-to-you kind of music. But we definitely brought you flowers first.”

The Stonecutters are an alternative folk band, with a sound resembling that of contemporary bands, like Mumford and Sons or the Old Crow Medicine Show. They got their start in August — “by accident”— when lead singer and rhythm guitarist Myles Corvalan, a junior and commercial music major at FAU, had a gig at Speak Easy Lounge in Boca.

He invited his longtime friend Christopher Gonzalez, a sophomore at Broward College, who would later became the keyboard player and a backup vocalist, to play with him. Van Deusen eventually joined them at Speak Easy. The trio played under the name Oedipus and the Mama’s Boys.

“It was 3 a.m.,” said van Deusen. “We’d all been a couple of beers deep and we were like, ‘what are we gonna call ourselves?’”

They did it just for fun, never really intending on turning into a band. But they liked their sound so much they had a change of heart.

“One day we sat down and said, ‘Hey! Let’s do this a lot!’” van Deusen cracked.

Eventually, they added three more of their friends to the group: lead guitarist and backup vocalist David Pitruzello, a junior and music education major at FAU, bass player Jean Haley, and Hester, an FAU graduate with a degree in commercial music technology.

When the band was deciding its genre, Corvalan thought the way they combined their voices when they sung different pitches simultaneously gave them a folk sound.

“The three of us [were] a three-part harmony, so I started wanting to make a folk band,” he said.

Corvalan, whom van Deusen called “the soul of the Stonecutters,” said combining their voices to create harmonies combined with a fuller vocal performance gives the band a unique sound, especially among those in South Florida.

“We’re playing the genre as it’s not really seen too much around the Boca Raton area,” he said. “Plus we focus on a lot of harmony with all of our voices. We make an effort to do three and four-part harmonies.”

But Hester, who aside from playing drums builds some of the band’s equipment, said their vibe as a band is what keeps their audience coming back for more.

“Every time we play anywhere, it just feels like a party,” he said. “We’re not there to impress anybody. We’re there to play music that we love and have a good time.”

They called themselves the Stonecutters, after a Chinese folk tale about a poor stone cutter who wishes for a better lifestyle, and his wishes are granted. He keeps wishing for more. More power, a higher status, even asking to be turned into the sun and the clouds, until, finally, he is satisfied with his place as a poor stone cutter.

Corvalan, who studies Buddhism, is the lead singer, main songwriter and rhythm guitar player. He thought the name was a perfect fit because the story is “essentially about how everything is interconnected.”

“When I write, I try to encompass a lot of different things,” Corvalan said, who mentioned Anthony Keidis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers as an influence. “There’s a whole range of emotions in the human spectrum. And in general, folk has always been about storytelling.”

Now, the Stonecutters are getting ready to release a song on FAU’s CompOWLation, an album featuring the artists signed to the school’s record label, Hoot/Wisdom Recordings. The song, called “Stray Dog,” was written by Corvalan and is about the love of travel.

“Even though you’re poor and broke, you get such an experience out of it that it’s worth more than the money you work to make,” he explained.

The band’s first show as an almost-full band, without Hester playing drums, was at Rocketown in Pompano Beach in August. Van Deusen called it the best first show they could have possibly had, “just for all the weirdest reasons.”

“All they told me what it was a skate park and the stage was attached,” he said. “Rocketown is a church-run youth center. It was really a lot of fun because half the crowd were my friends rocking out, and the other half were the parents of these kids.”

The band had to censor some of the songs –– this included van Deusen having to play the tin-whistle where the word “fuck” goes in “Little Lion Man,” a song by Mumford and Sons.

Their first show as a full band was at the Funky Buddha in Boca in late September. Since then, they’ve made it a routine to play there and at other local venues and music festival, showing off a unique sound.

“We just have something,” said van Deusen. “We have this kind of organic flow to us that just brings the crowd along with us. We’re there for the love of it and we bring them along with us.”

They plan to record an EP at Rancho Molino Industries, a home studio in Pensacola, during spring break –– aside from continuing to play shows locally, releasing a song on Hoot/Wisdom’s compilation album, and occasionally rehearsing at the parking lot of the music building.

While they work on their EP, they hope to embark on their first tour around Florida, playing in cities like Pensacola and Gainesville –– but the planning for that is still in the works. They will fund most of the tour by themselves but hope that their growing fan base and audiences will pay for tickets and merchandise, which would allow them to play in more places.

“A lot of it comes from out of pocket right now,” said Corvalan. “We’re all broke, but we’re able to pull together. What we’re hoping to do is [sell] some T-shirts and eventually the more this catches on the more people will wanna see us.”

The Stonecutters will be performing a free show at Satchmo’s Blues Club on Jan. 26 at 8:00 p.m. To hear more of the Stonecutters’ music, visit their Facebook page.
Correction: In a previous edition of this story, Rancho Molino Industries was incorrectly written as Rancho Molina Industries, and Hoot/Wisdom Recordings was incorrectly written as Hoot Wisdom.
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  • J

    John BoyJan 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Unfortunately, there are several people already by the name of “Dave.” Might wanna do some research and rename YO FACE

  • D

    DaveDec 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Unfortunately, there are several bands already by the name of “Stonecutters.” Might wanna do some research and rename the band…