Bulloch County has a rich history of musicians who have either come from or come through our area. From Willie McTell to Cole Swindell, this area has, in recent years, begun to gain more national and international notoriety for the musicians associated with Statesboro, Georgia Southern and Bulloch County. One of the newest additions to this group was home recently to pay homage to his inspiration during a very special photo shoot. In the Mesa Amp room at Deloach’s Music, Stephen DeLoach is in the middle of his shoot for his new Mesa Endorsement.
Stephen isn’t actually from Bulloch County. A native of Glennville, he grew up in the usual southern style home with church twice on Sunday and once mid- week. “I tell people I grew up on Brooks & Dunn and Mr. Feeny,” Stephen quips. A reference to the popular 90s show, this Georgia boy is meeting the World in a big way. And it all started when his grandfather got him his first guitar. He ended up finding his way to DeLoach’s music in Statesboro where long-time local business owner Wendell DeLoach (no relation) has been working with local musicians for nearly 30 years.
“It was very difficult to connect with people that have the same interests around the area, especially musicians. Most of my time was spent in my room learning to play guitar, until I started taking lessons at DeLoach’s. Wendell was always the ‘go- to’ guy for variety, and quality...I knew if it wasn’t in his store, it either wasn’t necessary or wasn’t quality. Every nook of that store is filled with gear, and if you need it, he probably has it. Ultimately, that combined with his willingness to work with people is why he’s been able to exceed expectations and have such a successful music store for 30 years.”
Stephen spent every spare moment at the store learning from and listening to stories from the musicians who would come through on their way to their next gig. When Wendell brought in Andy Timmons of the band Danger, Danger and the G3 Tour for a guitar clinic, Stephen had the opportunity to learn about tone, precision play- ing, and finesse. “After that moment,” Stephen says,”I was sold as a guitar player on the Mesa name.” Stephen remembers walking past the Mesa section at DeLoach’s dreaming that one day, he’d be able to afford his own Mesa amp. He spent the next several years playing around Statesboro while he finished school. At 21, he moved to Nashville to pursue the dream shared by so many musicians.
His first day in town, a mutual friend introduced him to another young musician, Jon Langston, who had just moved to town that day, also. The two men didn’t know then soon they’d be making music together for audiences across the country.
After years of honing his skill on guitar, he admits, “I never imagined I’d end up playing bass.” But after making a few demos, he began getting calls to go out on the road playing bass. Longtime friend, J.D. Groover remembered that Stephen could play bass, and asked him to fill in with Jon Langston’s band. What was supposed to be a temporary gig became his full-time position in the band. Their management company, KP Entertainment, manages Langston, Cole Swindell, and Luke Bryan. Soon after Luke’s Farm Tour kicked off two years ago, Luke announced that EMI would be giving him his own division, 32 Bridge Entertainment. Jon, Stephen, and the band would have the opportunity to sign with a label.
Since then, Stephen has been touring non-stop, but he’s never forgotten his roots in Bulloch and Tatnall counties where he learned the art that has brought him his newfound fame. He laughs at the term “fame.” “However,” he admits, “I have been able to travel the country and meet a lot of great people.” He recognizes that he has the chance to inspire others to “get out there and really go for it,” and he never wants to forget the town that gave him his start. So when Mesa Engineering approached him with an endorsement offer, Stephen knew exactly where to have the photo shoot right back where he started, at the Mesa Amp room of DeLoach’s Music Store in Statesboro.