It’s not often that you’ll run into someone who’s as invested in cover bands as 54-year-old Todd Stoney. But as the founder, or “mayor,” of Tributesville, an organization dedicated to hosting tribute and cover bands, as well as being the drummer of Detroit’s only Bob Seger cover band, Lookin’ Back, it’s his life.
“Tributesville is several things. It’s a level of musicianship, it’s a level of production, and it’s also a level of expectations that we’re trying to establish.
Tributesville members — or I call them citizens — they’re at the top of their games,” Stoney said. “Detroit’s best tributes. I’m trying to collect them all, and there’s room for more, but I’ve got I think 17 and I’m trying to find stuff to do for these guys.”
He said that in a way, he’s bringing many fans closer than they’ll ever get to their idols. In his case, particularly Bob Seger.
“Bob shows sell out, Bob shows are expensive, and this is kind of a consolation show for a lot of fans that can’t afford to see him, couldn’t get tickets or it’s just too far to travel,” Stoney said.
And on Sept. 22, his timing will dovetail perfectly with Seger’s own. One day before Seger hits the Palace of Auburn Hills, Stoney will travel from Detroit to Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium to bring mid-Michigan fans a taste.
“It’s nervy, it’s ballsy, and it’s not so risky,” Stoney said. “Seger’s on his 2017 Runaway Train Tour. There’s a lot of speculation and conversation about this being it, and he’s selling out everywhere.”
Stoney is from Lansing, but he moved to the Detroit area in pursuit of music. Eventually, he even formed a physical Tributesville location in Waterford that plays exclusively cover groups; another is under construction also in Waterford.
However, Stoney said that it was in Lansing that he first heard of Seger.
“My Aunt Kathy was supposed to babysit me. Meanwhile my parents were vacationing on a long road trip and my Aunt Kathy subcontracted the babysitting responsibilities to this lady I had never met before,” Stoney said. “I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ She was all dressed up, and she said, ‘I’m going to go to a rock concert.’ I asked, ‘Who are you going to see?’ She said Bob Seger, and I just got it stuck in my head.”
Fastforward several decades, and Stoney’s 8-year-old band has played festivals, more than 100 shows and sold out dozens of ticketed events. He said that his long-term goal is to play in Lansing more frequently, and potentially create a Tributesville location that’s closer to his hometown.
“We can really move through his career,” Stoney said. “Now that we’ve got production stuff, audio/video stuff, percentages that everyone can work with, and now that we have a home, we can get a little more creative with set designs, video backdrops, colors to help bring out the mood of the song. So that we can really get involved in the details of the artist that we’re covering.”
“Starring the Music of Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen”
Friday, Sept. 22 $12.50 7 p.m. Cooley Law School Stadium 505 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 485-4500. ow.ly/HShr30f5wAc