(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Is it a bill collector? Or Kid Rock? That was the question on Ty Stone's mind. He was pretty sure the phone number showing up on his cell phone was a bill collector because he told me, "I'd been broke since I was born." When he was in Chicago on Saturday (Feb. 26) to open Kid Rock's concert, he told me the whole story about what's happened since that call that changed his life. When Stone ignored the call in 2005 and let it got to voice mail, this is the message he got: "Ty. Stone. This is Kid. Rock. I am diggin' your s**t, man." What Kid Rock was digging was music from Stone's demo CD which had been thrust into his hands by Stone's persistent friend, Sam Wood, who was sitting near Kid Rock at a Detroit Pistons game. "We'd been plotting for years how we could get a CD to Kid Rock," Wood admitted to me. "And it finally happened." Kid Rock heard something in songs like Stone's "Blessed St. Anthony" and wanted to know more. So when he was out in Los Angeles for a U2 concert, Kid Rock reportedly left that show early to go hear Stone play at the tiny Room 5 Lounge. Two days later, Stone says Rock asked him, "Do you wanna come home?" He flew him back from California to his native Detroit and had a limo meet him at the airport. "When I got in, the driver said, 'Bob [Kid Rock] said you might be nervous, so there's a six-pack in the back.' I drank the whole thing on the way to Bob's house," Stone remembers. And while his sound now is more Southern rock than straight-up country, the singers he lists as his current favorites sound pretty country, including Jamey Johnson, Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean and newcomer Brantley Gilbert. But Stone thinks there's a place for his roots in country. "I just want to be like the Midwest senator for country," he said. "No matter where you're from, the purest form of country is the song and telling the truth. I can do that."