Dale Stumbo is a multi-talented man, a great father, successful restaurateur, home chef, exciting performer but most all, an extraordinary singer-songwriter. On his new album, Water In The Well, Dale invites you in, makes you comfortable and then offers up a 13-course musical feast for the ears.
Dale’s musical journey began when he found his mom’s guitar tucked away in a closet when he was 11 years old. He got a chord book and taught himself how to play. When he hit middle school, he became part of the school’s 30-piece Wildwood Middle School Guitar Group. And that’s where Dale first cut his performance chops as he describes it, “I was one of the lead vocalists and they would sneak me offstage halfway through the show and dress me up in a white sports coat, black slacks, white shoes and slick my hair back. The musical director would then say to the audience, Ladies and gentlemen from Memphis TN now living at Lake Deaton in Wildwood Florida, please welcome the fantabulous, extravaganza of singing talent Dale ‘Elvis’ Stumbo! And I would come out and do “Hound Dog”. All the girls would be wearing bop skirts and we would bust into Elvis.” Needless to say, with all the middle school girls clamoring after him he became a huge Elvis fan.
Dale wrote his first song at 12, ‘Stay With Me For Awhile” when his first heart throb, Missy, broke up with him. From then on with a guitar in his hands and a pen by his side Dale continued to hone his talents and with the encouragement of his Florida audiences, he decided to move to Nashville in 1984 and stake his claim in the “Music City.” As Dale puts it, “I had written about 10 songs and my fans thought they were the greatest songs they ever heard. So I left for Nashville with the 10 greatest songs that no one has ever heard.” Dale chuckles, “And then I got to Nashville and realized that those weren’t the 10 greatest songs that no one has ever heard.” That led Dale to doing hundreds of writers’ nights anywhere he could. It was an invaluable learning experience being able to get advice from fellow songwriters on lyrical structure, melodies and choruses. He goes on to say, “Man I got so many writers coming up telling me to work on this or work on that and sometimes they would ask me to write with them. They would say Man you’re getting so close. Honing my skills with other songwriters at writers’ nights was such a great education.”
For the next six years Dale kept at the writer nights and started doing gigs around town. That’s when he fell into good company with the legendary country singer and writer Tom T. Hall who gave him some of the best advice ever about songwriting. “Tom gave me some a secret to songwriting. He said you know I’ve written so many songs by going into restaurants, honky tonks bars and places where people are congregating and sit on a stool without saying a word and listen to the conversations that people are having. That is where I’ve found more inspiration to write songs. I thought that was the coolest thing I ever heard. He would just sit there and listen to everyday people’s problems and loves. That’s what I try to do, pick up on their stories.” That was the same time that the fabled John Prine befriended him becoming a fan and an inspiration!
After six years, Rick Blackburn, president of the red-hot Atlantic Records, took a shine to him, and introduced him to Confederate Railroad, John Michael Montgomery, Tracy Lawrence and the whole of the label’s artists. Blackburn introduced him to the famous producer and music publisher, James Stroud. Stroud owned the much heralded Stroudavarious publishing company with many of the hottest writers in Nashville. Dale says, “At Blackburn’s suggestion I sent James a tape to listen to. I’ll never forget this but James called me from his private jet and said I’m listening to your songs right now and can you come Tuesday morning and let’s talk about you signing a writer’s deal with me. And I said yes sir. I just couldn’t believe I was talking to him and he signed me.”
Dale packed up all these great experiences still with guitar in hand and moved back to Florida in 2017. Since then, his love of the stage and performing has him averaging over 200 shows a year. As he puts it, “This will sum it all up. I was playing a gig last week and there was a woman I’d never seen before sitting there listening. When I took a break she came up and said to me I’ve never seen you before and you are fabulous. But you know what struck me even more so than your singing or songs is that you smiled through the entire set. With every single song you had the biggest smile on your face and she said I got addicted to it. I couldn’t help myself I started smiling along with you,” Dale goes on to say, “That’s what I love is that humbled by is that God blesses me everyday to take my guitar to work and to play for people and make them smile.”And that’s what you’ll find yourself doing when you listen to the R&B tinged rock, pop music on the Water In The Well album. Whether it’s the melodious ease of “Sail Away” or the passionate reminder of living life in the title track “Water In The Well” or the heartfelt tribute of “Miss You Down Here” Dale takes you on a musical cruise through life’s panorama of emotions and opportunities. Listen to the “The Gospel According to a Melody” and find the spiritual richness of music itself or just have some fun with the likes of “Cookin’ With Me” , Chance To Dance” the powerful let’s getaway song “Rock It With The King”! As Dale puts it, “Songwriting is such a powerful tool to bring people together. Nothing is more powerful than a song.” And once you hear this album there won’t be a doubt in your mind of the truth behind that statement.