Personal Notes


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A monthly music collective with a difference!

Musicians who work live and in the studio with the likes of Sir Tom Jones, ELO, 10cc, Mike + The Mechanics, Leona Lewis, David Gilmour, Bonnie Tyler, Eric Clapton, James Morrison, Yes And Jessie J….plus many more come together in a collective each month run by drummer and musical director Ben Stone (Sir Tom Jones, Mike+The Mechanics, Bonnie Tyler).

The Hot Rats Collective play the music of artists and bands that influenced them including songs by Sting, Steely Dan, Jeff Beck, ELO, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller Band, Deep Purple, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan and more.

Very special guests will be announced each month!!


Our very special guest this month on lead vocals, the pocket rocket and incredibly talented Mr Tim Howar! Not only is Tim the front man along side Andrew Roachford for Mike + The Mechanics but Tim has also just finished playing the lead role in Phantom of The Opera in Londons West End! We are delighted to welcome Tim “The Power” Howar to join the Hot Rats Collective at Cafe Play in Mumbles at our monthly residency on the 30th January 2020.

Along side Timothy Howar will be some of the UK’s top session players including Matt Round (James Morrison, Natalie Umbruglia, Gary Barlow, David Gilmour, Archive), Matt Prior (Bonnie Tyler, Eric Clapton, Ellin Flur) and Musical Director/Drummer Ben Stone (Sir Tom Jones, Mike + The Mechanics, Leona Lewis, Bonnie Tyler, Helene Fischer)

Plus local support from Singer-songwriter Sian Richards

Other House band musicians include, Luke Evans (Gtr) Greg Evans (bass) among other guests.

Venue :
Cafe Play
Castleton Walk Arcade,
Newton Road,
Mumbles, Swansea
(The old Nutz Nightclub)

Purchase tickets online and in person from –

Derricks music,
221 Oxford Street, Swansea, SA1 3BQ

As well as on the door at Cafe Play on the night.

**Student priced tickets also available
(Current student ID will be required on door)

Artist links :


Lighting by : Sonalyst |
Photography by : Leesha Williams Photography |
Artwork by : Elliott Stone (Elwood Tattoos) Insta: @elwood_tattoos

Tom Jones 2019 (USA)

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I had the great privilege once again to play for the amazing Sir Tom Jones this year. I have to say that like a fine wine he just keeps getting better with age. I played the US leg of the tour and as always feel very lucky to get to make music with a band of such talented musicians. The band was –

  • Scott McKeon – Guitar
  • Ben Jones – Guitar
  • Owen Barry – Guitar
  • Dave Bronze – Bass
  • Ben Stone Drums
  • Gary Wallis – Drums/MD
  • Paddy Milner – Piano / Hammond / Synth
  • Henry Collins – Trumpet
  • Trevor Mires – Trombone / Sousaphone
  • Francis Walden – Saxaphones

We played a lot of re-worked material from his back catalogue but played in a more stripped down fashion. A little bit more bluesy / gospel style showcasing each of the musicians in different ways. In many ways it was a very musical show and a far cry from the pop tours of late where the music is often the last consideration after the lights and video screens. We played a bunch of classics in the set that Tom loves like “Cry To Me”, “I Wish You Would”, “Take My Love” and “Wonderful World”.

If you get the chance to see Sir Tom this year or next please go do it. He is on top form and it’s been my great pleasure to sit behind him on stage once again.


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“MD’ing is one of my favourite things in live music.”

Ben Stone.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have been musical director for a number of shows over the past year or so. This is an area I have always wanted to work more in and thankfully I have been afforded that luxury. It’s always a lot of work but something that is so rewarding for me. It suits the way my brain works.

BBF – Boy Bands Forever – Early 2017 I got involved with a new musical called Boybands Forever which is a comedy take on the construction of a famous boyband such as NSYNC or Take That! It has it’s serious moments too but it’s really a celebration of the music of boybands! I worked with a serious creative team who I’d been involved with on previous big shows I’d played with Helene Fischer back in 2015. BBF was written and directed by German TV personality Thomas Hermans and the show was masterfully choreographed by Marvin A. Smith Musical Supervision by Christoph Papendiek and yours truly as Musical Director.

Boybands Forever musicians include – Ben Stone (MD/Drummer), Matt Round (Bass), Toby Chapman (Keys), Martin Mayer (Keys), Luke Juby (Keys), Ryan Haberfield (Guitar), Matt Bishop (Guitar) and Gary Wallis (Drums).

Putting together a new musical from scratch was a lot of work and a lot of fun. All the arrangements and new versions of classic boyband songs were done over a 3 week period with the help of my great friend and wonderful musician Toby Chapman. After Toby and I had done the initial work I set about implementing Marvin’s ambitious changes and “live show” elements. We worked closely for two weeks writing and designing epic versions of these famous songs to bring this huge spectacle to life. We have now done three full tours of this show amounting to well over 100 shows in Arenas, Concert Halls and theatres all over Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. Possibly coming to a UK theatre near you soon?? Who knows but the thought is nice.

Everyman Theatre – Cheltenham – I’ve been lucky enough to continue to work with the great team at the everyman theatre in Cheltenham which is run in conjunction with Mark Goucher Productions on their annual pantomime. I brought with me my knowhow from working as a programmer/Sound Designer in London’s west-end and on many other pop tours from stadiums, arenas, theatres and clubs to give what was a regional pantomime a real pro sonic flavour. Big pop numbers as well as tunes from musical theatre played with all the trimmings you’d expect from a Take That concert meant this big budget show has gone on to break it’s box office records year on year in the past 5 years that I’ve been involved which is testament to our team working on the show. I’m writing this in 2019 which is sadly the last year that I’ll MD this show. I wish the new team there the best of luck in their next production. On to pastures knew…

If you’d like to get in touch with Ben about MD’ing your next tour please use the contact page here.

2016 / 2017 UPDATE

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2016 / 17 updates

October 2016:

So it’s been a while since I put an update on here…my apologies! The good news is I’ve been incredibly busy since my last update. During 2016 I launched my remote sessions service officially. After doing remote sessions for years I made it public and it’s been going great with more and more independant artists using my services to record live acoustic drums and electronic drums / programming. More details here: Remote Drum Sessions I recorded a couple of country records which are due for release this year and have more music waiting to be recorded for 2017.

I also took on the job of Musical Director for the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham for their Christmas Pantomime. Lots of programming and writing as well as charts for the band and I also played drums for the 7 week run. We had a lot of fun and broke box office records from previous years with over 42,000 coming through the doors to see the show over the 7 weeks.

January 2017:

5 days off with the family on a short break then straight into rehearsals for the current tour I’m on. After her come back tour in 2015 which I played, German artist “Michelle” has returned with a 29 date tour of Europe for which I’m playing drums and doing a bit of singing. We rehearsed in Gaga Studios Hamburg again run by a great chap called Hans Jurgen. He is a top guy and runs a great recording studio, details here:

We hit most major cities in Germany on this tour and we play Switzerland and dates in Austria also. See dates here:

The rest of 2017 looks to be busy with more songwriting / studio sessions until more touring around August time….more on this as it happens.

Once again thanks for reading and please keep up to date daily with my twitter/instagram and Facebook pages. Links on my site.

Keep rocking peeps. Peace & Love!


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Back on tour during February/March with Universal artist “Michelle”


Hello all you lovely people on the web and social media sites if you’ve followed a link from my various feeds such as FB, Twitter or Instagram! Welcome to my first update on the site in 2015!!! Just a little update really as I’m prepping to go back out on the road. Last year I toured briefly with a big German artist called Helene Fischer playing percussion (lots of it!) but this time I’m back on drums with a German artist called ” Michelle”.  I’ll be honest…I don’t know a lot about this artist but it’s a pop show so I’m planning on using a hybrid kit made up from DW acoustic drums and Roland V-Drums. I love them both equally just like a father loves his kids favouring neither one more than the other. It’s the only way to view it in my opinion. Dance drums just sound better on the machines that make that sound and rock tunes sound better with loud ass acoustic drums! I get the best of both worlds with DW and Roland. The tour is short but should be a lot of fun and a lot of programming judging from my preliminary listenings of the material! I’ll be working with Musical Director Christoph Papendieck again on this which is always such a great pleasure. He is like a machine on the board of keys! In a good way of course! Plus he’s worked with such a great array of amazing artists and sets the bar high which I like.  Oh… I forgot to mention I’ll also be playing acoustic guitar and singing on this tour. I know, I know I should stick to the drums but they wanted an average guitarist who can’t sing and I said instantly ‘I’m your man!’ Haha!

For my German speaking friends the tour dates can be found here – 

Hope to see you on the road my friends. Stay well and be nice to one and other.



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Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Sorry for the silence recently via my web blog. It’s been a busy time at Stone towers or rather on numerous planes and tour buses!

A few months back I had the pleasure of working with a great singer by the name of Leona Lewis originally of X-Factor fame. Since being on that show she has carved an incredible career for herself and had many hit songs. She has recently signed a new deal with Island records so I’m interested to hear what she’ll be doing artistically for the next album. It was a pleasure to have been asked onboard to play drums with her in Berlin and we had a great time bashing the tunes into shape. Originally I was booked for an acoustic show but we did some acoustic versions of some of her hits and a few covers, then a whole bunch of fully produced tunes from her back catalogue. I was actually quite shocked as to how professional Leona was and how she is a stickler for the details much like myself. I had kind of expected her to be what you would expect a typical X-Factor (new to fame) pop star to be like… all about the designer clothes and diva attitude and less about the music and how to craft  a show into something that is entertaining, musically respectable and honest. Leona was a true pro and spent a long time working on vocal parts and making sure she was happy with the vocal arrangements. We had a lot to do in a very very short space of time which is not new and I’m used to that but it was a lot of fun for me and the rest of the band…and I hope for her too. The show came together and was a good mix of acoustic and full band music which I hope we did justice to?

I played cajon / shakers and tambourine on the acoustic tracks which were kindly supplied by my percussion company AA Meinl who are based in Germany. Man…these percussion instruments always sound great which is why I use them and the range of shakers are just out of this world. I have a lot of shakers in my gear stores and always enjoy choosing the right one for various situations. I love that I can get so many different textures from them. Sad I know but I love shakers! I used the SH8BK and the Luis Conte signature SH4BK shakers on this gig along with a CAJ3MB-M cajon with a sure Beta 91 inside and an SM57 on the front. Along with these I used a mounted TMT2-BK and an incredible Artisan AE-MTA2B hand tambourine. The artisan stuff is just the best! Along side my percussion I had a small DW Collecters series kit with Remo coated ambassadors, my Zildjian cymbals and signature Vater sticks/splash sticks.

Although we’d known each other for a few years it was only my second time working with danish guitarist Peter Honoré. The first time was with Brian McFadden for a one off show in London which again was very little prep time and a full show of 25+ songs with only one day rehearsal! There is a pattern forming I can see it!! Anyway, it was a real treat working with Pete and indeed the rest of the great line-up of musicians on this gig. I especially enjoyed the company of the bass player 😉

The band were –

Leona Lewis (Artist)

Luke Juby (Piano/MD)

Peter Honoré (Guitar/Ambience)

Marizia Skeete (BV’s)

Charlotte Mckay (BV’s)

Logic (Bass/clicks & pops)

Ben Stone (Drums/Percussion)

Here are some pics from Rehearsal and the after party which was a lot of fun as you can see. Catch you soon on the road and thanks for visiting my site.


Leona Lewis 2014

Luke Juby doing his MD thing


Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014


Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014


Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014

Leona Lewis 2014



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image image image image imageI’m sitting on a train traveling back home writing this after having just done a one off show with Sir Tom Jones on the 8th March 2014 in Moscow, Russia. Actually only the second show Tom has done in 2014. It was such a great pleasure to play and spend time with the legendary singer again after a break of 18 months since the last show I did with him in Dallas, Texas.

Moscow which I’d never travelled to before this show, was an interesting place. I can safely say I would not want to travel back there for anything other than a tour but I had a blast and was put up in an incredibly swanky luxury hotel/village which is never a bad thing in my book!

The band for this gig consisted of some of the finest musicians I know and we had a great time performing and having fun on and off stage as I always do with these great people.

I hope to upload some video footage soon of some of our performances. Keep a look out for this in the coming weeks.

It’s about time for some sleep now. See ya at a show soon.


The Tom Jones band in Moscow where –

Trevor Mires – Trombone

Henry Collins – Trumpet

Francis Walden – Saxophone

Jamie Moses – Guitar/Vocals

Alex Meadows – Bass

Sam Grimley – Keys/Guitar/Vocals

Christoph Papendieck – Keys/Vocals

Sophie Hiller – Background Vocals

Laura Critchley – Background Vocals

Ben Stone – Drums