By Matt Morrissette

Although you may not know the band by name, it’s a safe bet you’d recognize nearly all the members of Stone Shakers from the legendary Shine A Light shows at The Queen or from the myriad of local acts the members have graced with their talents over the last decade. Featuring an enviable lineup of the best of the best that the Delaware music scene has to offer, the band is readying themselves for a new EP of original music set for release this month.

Stone Shakers is the brainchild of longtime pals and bandmates, Anthony Cappella and Kevin Walsh (both formerly of Shytown). It started as a more traditional acoustic band featuring Cappella on standup bass; Walsh handling both mandolin and guitar duties; local standouts Pete Cogan and Ritchie Rubini on harmonica and percussion respectively; and stellar vocalist Samantha Poole on the front-and-center mic.

“We wanted to do something very different musically,” Walsh says in explaining the genesis of the band’s sound. “At the time, no one locally had a predominantly acoustic approach with a mandolin and harmonica flavor.”

Over the past couple years, the band underwent some changes. Cogan and Rubini amicably parted, and the band welcomed Glenn Walker on drums and Bob Reuther on second guitar. In adding more muscle to their sound, Cappella moved to electric bass.

“The key to the band has always been chemistry between all the members, past and present,” Cappella says.

In another sense, the band is also an expression of family. Though their live shows are stacked with their unique takes on classic Americana tunes with some canny takes on classic rock anthems, their recordings are a labor of love and shared creativity between Walsh and his son, Ian, who collaborate on the band’s original compositions as well as on production duties. 

The senior Walsh is the longtime owner of Hammerhead Studios — East, formerly based in Greenville (Del.) where the band primarily recorded both their first self-titled EP from 2018 and their upcoming release, Last Kiss. Since completing the recording, he’s moved his studio (and home) to the beach.

The Stone Shakers (l-r): Kevin Walsh, Samantha Poole, Glenn Walker, Tony Cappella and Bob Reuther. O&A photo.

Ian is a highly accomplished musician, songwriter, and producer who moved his talents to Los Angeles after catching the music bug from his father. Out west, Ian has made a name for himself with the Pulse Music Group and as a musician in the band, Bel Heir. As a producer and songwriter, he has lent his talents to records by Em Beihold, Plain White T’s, Blink 182, Phem, and countless others. 

Despite his busy life in L.A., Ian never passes up a chance to work with his father or reconnect with his Delaware roots. His studio in L.A. is even named after his father’s studio in Delaware. 

“I write most of the songs with Ian, and because we record most of the music at my home studio, each EP is a special opportunity to work with my son,” Walsh says. “I’m especially proud of the work we did together and with the band on the new EP.

One of the keys to Stone Shakers’ synergy is the rich history the members have in the fabric of the Delaware music scene. Currently, Walsh works with Vinyl Shockley, Earth Jam, and The Snap in addition to his pivotal role in Stone Shakers. Cappella is also a very busy man, playing in legendary local jam band Montana Wildaxe as well as What The Funk, Howl Train, Vinyl Shockley, Earth Jam, Region and TRO. 

Ian (l) and Kevin Walsh at Hammerhead Studios — East.

Stone Shakers’ singer — and secret weapon — Samantha Poole, is well-known for belting out pop-rock hits with The Snap since 2009 alongside Delaware music scene linchpin Ben Leroy. She also has a thriving solo career with an EP called Wild Ride released last year. 

To illustrate how tight knit and intertwined the local music scene is: Poole’s father played in a band in the 1970s with current Stone Shakers drummer, Glenn Walker. 

Discussing joining Stone Shakers, Poole has this to say: “After playing a hurricane relief benefit with our respective bands at the time, Tony [Cappella] and Kevin [Walsh] approached me about doing a band together. I was hesitant due to having pretty young kids at the time, but they understood my time constraints. I just couldn’t pass it up. One doesn’t get a chance very often to play with that caliber of pro musicians.”     

Among their favorite places to play in the area, the members all cited Pizza by Elizabeths as their home away from home, with Dew Point Brewing Co., Constitution Yards, and Blue Ball Barn all garnering honorable mentions. However, it seems The Queen holds the most special place in the memories of their musical lives with the annual Shine A Light show (in which Cappella holds a crucial leadership role) being a yearly rite of passage. 

Following this month’s release of Last Kiss on all major streaming platforms, look for Stone Shakers to headline Meals on Wheels’ annual benefit, the Ultimate Tailgate, on Thursday, October 12 at Delaware Park followed by a return to Pizza By Elizabeths on December 15.