By GABRIELLA FREITAS
Stonewall Station is on the brink of success as it releases its first promotional album following a long journey of recovery experienced after the band’s front man and coordinator suffered a major car accident.
Michael Wilson, 27, vocalist, guitar and piano player for Stonewall Station, and an accountant who graduated from the University of Georgia, was involved in a car accident in April 2012 just four days after playing the band’s second show ever.
Wilson was hit head-on by a driver going the wrong way on U.S. Highway 41. He broke all four of his limbs including his left elbow, right forearm, left ankle and right heel. He was hospitalized for two weeks and after seven surgeries, was limited to a wheelchair for three months.
“The first question I asked when I woke up was whether I’d be able to play music again,” Wilson said.
Doctors encouraged Wilson to try to play again as it would be good therapy for his injuries. One of the songs called “Set Me Free” which is featured in the promotional album has a simpler sound because of Wilson’s limited chord capabilities due to nerve damage in his left arm.
After a long few months of therapy, Wilson regained most of his capabilities and was able to play a Halloween show in October 2012, Stonewall Station’s first performance since the accident.
Based in Kennesaw, the band consists of four friends who realized they all played instruments and decided to play together and formed a group. Wilson is accompanied by Eric Rich, 23, lead guitarist, Alex Zaganas, 25, who plays the bass guitar, and Taylor Zaganas, 28, the drummer.
The band’s name, Stonewall Station comes from the street that three out of the four band mates live on, Stonewall Drive, and the station part of it comes from Kennesaw’s famous locomotive history.
The band mates started playing their instruments at a fairly early age and most of them have always wanted to pursue a musical career. Brothers Taylor and Alex Zaganas say they’ve always loved to make music.
“There’s pictures of me and Taylor when we were little kids in cowboy hats holding acoustic guitars and I always just wanted to be Garth Brooks,” Alex Zaganas said.
Some of the major influences on their sound and songwriting include classic Southern rock, blues, and musicians such as the Allman Brothers and John Mayer.
The members of Stonewall Station say Wilson’s accident pushed them further into pursuing their dreams of playing music and giving up was not an option.
“The accident really played a role in shaping us as a band,” Alex Zaganas said.
Perhaps the biggest effect of it all was having their lead guitar player, Eric Rich move to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during Wilson’s recovery.
Rich, who started playing the guitar at the age of 11, has always been passionate about not only making music but also entertaining a crowd.
“If I can make you smile or laugh just by playing the guitar, that makes my day,” Rich said.
He talks about how as a fellow guitar player, watching Wilson go through what he did made him realize he wanted to get out to someplace where he could try to play guitar professionally. The rest of the band encouraged him.
Muscle Shoals has a significant and influential recording history with major artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and many more. Rich was able to interact and play guitar with people who taught and influenced him in a way he had never experienced before. He says the most impact came from Will McFarlane, who was the guitar player for well-known blues singer and songwriter Bonnie Raitt for many years.
“He was a huge influence on me and my music as far as country, blues, and jazz goes,” Rich said.
Rich soon joined an established band in Muscle Shoals with whom he helped write songs and for the first time ever, was introduced to the experience of being on tour. He traveled all over Eastern U.S. before returning to Kennesaw and rejoining Stonewall Station just when Wilson was able to start playing shows again.
The promotional album, titled “Stay”, is a collection of songs the band worked on before and after Wilson’s accident. It was released on iTunes in December 2014 and featured on Reverb Nation’s Featured Artists page in February 2015. The release party for “Stay” is May 8, 2015, at well-known venue Smith’s Ole Bar in Atlanta where the band will play a show.
“It’s exciting because this will be our first show where we’re playing a real venue, and bands are actually opening for us now,” Wilson said.
Looking back at their journey, the band members agree that the experience Wilson went through made them all better musicians and closer friends.
“Nine times out of 10 someone would have died in that accident, and it made me feel as if I had a second chance or like I’m on borrowed time,” Wilson said
Stonewall Station continues working hard to establish a solid presence in the metro-Atlanta area before recording its first full album. The band has high hopes to book a tour as it already has a few gigs booked in Texas.
Download the promotional album “Stay” on iTunes by searching for Stonewall Station and keep up with gigs at www.stonewallstation.com