The Steppin' Stones
What’s the secret to forming a band that has been around for nearly a decade, put out four releases, and shared stages with renowned musical acts including Lyle Lovett, Jason Isbell, and Rusted Root all by the age you can legally vote? One answer: start young. Hannah Wickland (guitar/vocals), Ian Jones (drums), and Andrew Ottimo (bass/vocals) began following their passion for music at ages when most kids still take afternoon naps. Hannah began taking piano lessons at age 3 and was entering classical music competitions by the age of 4. By kindergarten, her father gave her a book of Beatles cover songs, expanding her tastes from classical to classic rock. At age 6, she played her first show, performing Beatles covers with her brother, Luke Mitchell (also a musician, currently of the band The High Divers). She first picked up a guitar at age 8, and by 9, she had formed The Steppin Stones. Ian started playing the drums at 5 years old, inspired by musicians like Mike Maple (drummer of Dave Matthews Band). Rounding out the three-piece is Andrew Ottimo, whose lifelong inspiration is Les Claypool, the lead singer and bassist of quirky San Francisco rock band Primus. While The Steppin Stones began as a cover band, the trio has spent the past three years exploring their own distinct sound, writing their own music, and touring as much as possible. The sound they’ve accomplished is nostalgic rock, informed by all those years playing classic songs. Hannah’s singing voice and guitar playing has earned her comparisons to blues/soul musician Susan Tedeschi, which speaks to strength of the band’s performance style. In between touring and playing private events (including several parties for AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and his vintage racing team), they managed to release a self-titled album last year, recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC.