Don Stone - Trombone
Don has performed with the band off and on in festivals since 1993 from his home in Helena, Montana. Here are a few comments from Don about his early tenure with Black Swan:
"Kit Johnson called me in the early 1990s, in need of a trombone sub for the Sacramento Jubilee. As I recall, James Meyer was unavailable because of a symphony gig. I remember thinking that there's no way a symphony engagement would have kept me from going to play a jazz festival, especially Sacramento. Heck, the symphony experience for trombone players is 97% sheer boredom and 3% stark terror. Playing with Black Swan is always 100% pure pleasure.
I first heard Black Swan at some Washington state jazz festivals (Aberdeen , Tri-Cities and Long Beach) and Kit heard me performing with the Last Chance Dixieland Jazz Band from Montana . We enjoyed each other's bands but I don't think we had much conversation. I certainly didn't realize that I was being scoped out as a possible sub. So I was surprised and delighted when I got the offer to come and play. Kit sent me a thick binder of music and cassettes of all their recordings to date which were: Sweet Substitute, Woodsheddin' and Sweet Lotus Blossom. I think Spreadin' Rhythm Around was in the can but not released yet which makes me think I got Kit's call in early 1993.
Well, the festival went fine from my perspective. Ernie, Kit and Steve guided me through and helped me know when to play and when to lay out. I had a great time, got to know all the guys (no girls yet) and must have played OK because Kit invited me to play a bunch of other festivals. Actually, Kit was looking for a full time replacement because James desired to go some other musical directions. I was offered the position but reluctantly declined. It would have involved uprooting my wife and me from our careers as teachers in Montana. That just wasn't feasible, but it was damn tempting!
Over a several year period, I got to be the Black Swan trombonist for festivals in Aberdeen, Long Beach, Chilliwack, Coos Bay, Sacramento (again) and Sisters, Oregon. Several of these were more than once and I think I've forgotten a few. I even got to record with the band on the How You Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm project. More recently, Kit has invited me to play the Spokane festival, and the 2001 Bill Blythe Cruise (that's another story). There again, Kit was between trombonists. Lew had left the band for a short spell and Black Swan needed me to fill in. I was supposed to go to San Diego with them that November but Lew wisely realized what he was giving up and returned to the band just in time to bump me from a winter vacation to California. Someday, I'll hide his valve oil for that.
One other item from my Black Swan memory book: I played Coos Bay with the band in the early spring of 1996. Days before my travel to that event, my wife Cathy and I were informed that our adoption efforts were coming to fruition and that we were going to be the parents of a beautiful baby girl. During one of Black Swan's later sets, Kit announced my joyous news to a large audience and many of you readers still ask me about Claire because of this. Traveling home from that festival, I rendezvoused with my wife in Spokane then drove to Coeur d'alene and met our daughter. Then we all drove home to Helena for the first time as a family of three. I've been on an upward spiral ever since. Those events live in my heart as one of my life's truly golden moments and I'll never forget the warmth, love and support received from the Black Swan musicians, families and fans. I know that my friendship and musical association with the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band will continue long into the future."