Stoney’s Rockin’ Country resident, the face that runs the place, the gatekeeper is the versatile man known simply as Toad, second-in-command to owner Chris Lowden.
Just Toad. A simple name for a man that is the antithesis of simple. No one is more suited for the job that requires a myriad of skill sets from A&R to web programming, Social Media Marketing and everything in between.
Toad was born in Riverside, California, in perhaps one of the most notorious years in music and pop culture. He moved to Las Vegas at a young age and to say he grew up in the heart of the Las Vegas show business community is an understatement. As a boy, he worked as a lifeguard at the legendary Sands Hotel and Casino and regularly experienced the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Sammy, Dean) live at least twice a year and absorbed these historic experiences one-by-one logging them in his seemingly photographic memory.
As he moved into his teens, Toad developed a disparate taste for music. 8-track tapes littered his mother’s rugged Chevy Monte Carlo by artists ranging from Freddy Fender, Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, John Denver and Kenny Rogers. Yes, hardcore traditional country resided deep inside Toad’s musical psyche. But wasted days and wasted nights was not what Toad was about. He was so single-minded about his passion for music that he once walked 3.5 miles to a K-Mart store to buy the Tears For Fears album Songs From The Big Chair. His first live concert experience was none other than the great Van Halen when they were in the prime of their careers.
Toad explains that “Growing up in Vegas in the 80s and 90s was invaluable. Vegas is all about connections — who has a ‘guy?’ The friendships I made in my youth, are my ‘guys.’ They help Stoney’s Rockin’ Country succeed every day. I’ve spent the majority of holidays with our current audio engineer for decades, I went to middle school with the owner of the print shop that prints all of our stuff.”
“My passion for music ended up driving me professionally,” Toad continues. He bulldogged his way onto the Vegas music scene and was instrumental in getting the Las Vegas group The Killers noticed enough to get signed to a major deal. He maintained this heavy presence on the Las Vegas local music scene through his heralded lvlocalmusicscene.com site. He cites Las Vegas’ KUNV-FM’s show The Rock Avenue as a vital outlet to his success. “This station alone drove me to want to help emerging artists be heard in any medium possible. I was introduced to bands that would never be heard on terrestrial radio without a program like this.”
From there, it would only seem natural for Toad to cross Chris Lowden’s path; after all they were on a similar professional track. “I first met Chris at Stoney’s in 2007, all over one of my T-shirts brands that I used to hustle,” states the affable host-in- residence. “I’ve been having that ever famous #lunchwithlowden ever since, even while running a lucrative side-bar business programming, designing and executing social marketing for clients such as Disney Movie Club, Uncle Bens, Hormel and Toyota.”
“I more or less invented my position as Chris’s right-hand man and go-to guy at Stoney’s,” explains this determined show business professional. “I’m a musician of sorts and enjoy playing drums and bass for fun so I’ve always known I wanted to surround myself with music. I taught myself how to code websites early on. I even built a real audio player that did it all before there was an iTunes. Then, I learned graphic design because I hated waiting for graphic designers to get me their portion so I could code and bring the site to life. I started making show flyers and posters for bands. I just really became a jack of all trades marketing wise. I wanted to be that guy who had a musical point of view, understood Las Vegas show business from the ground up, the guy who could produce radio shows, get bands signed to record deals, and had a vital live presence programming a high-profile concert venue [Stoney’s Rockin’ Country].”
“Toad’s my right hand, the idea man responsible for overseeing A&R, marketing and advertising, social media, web development, and if you asked him to add something else to the list, he’d learn it before you’re done reading this article,” boasted owner Chris Lowden. It’s that drive and skillset that has scored Toad mentions in publications like Billboard and Rolling Stone.
Toad has a different take on why he does what he does. “To be honest, the way I see it, the more things I can do for Stoney’s, the more money we can funnel into promoting emerging artists and giving them a place to play week in and week out. In the end, my love for playing a vital part in the success of emerging artists is at my core. Ten years ago, Chris and I embarked on giving country music a place to live and breathe in Las Vegas. From that moment, I never looked back. Helping to support fresh acts like Kane Brown, Carter Winter, Lucas Hoge, Stephanie Quayle, Luke Combs, Love & Theft, Scooter Brown Band, American Young, Jackson Michelson, Michael Ray, Brett Young and a couple of my current favorites, The Cadillac Three, Maggie Rose and Russell Dickerson are what make me tick,” declares the Las Vegas entrepreneur. “When we invite and book a new emerging act or an established legend, I want to be there first to shake hands and welcome them to Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, Las Vegas’ home of country music. I also want our local, loyal patrons (many with us since day one) and tourists alike to visit us on the strip and say hello and enjoy the club that embodies the heart and soul of live country music.”
“Las Vegas is our hometown and our mission is to provide a stage, a veritable launching pad for artists and hopefully a kick-ass venue for fans to see great artists up close and personal at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country.”