The 254

Stanley Wilfong

By Kevin Tankersley

Bringing back memories

Stan Wilfong started playing music when he was in the sixth grade. He had planned on joining the school choir, but the school’s orchestra director stopped him in the hall one day and said, “You’ve got really big hands. Have your ever thought about playing the bass?”

Turns out, the orchestra had a need for someone to play the upright bass, and Wilfong, who is 6-foot-4-inches and was always the tallest kid in his class, was physically the right person for the job. According to a post on TheLuthierShop.com, which is an instrument shop in Cross Roads, Texas, east of Denton, a full-size upright bass is best played by a musician who is 6-foot-5-inches or taller “or they have unusually large hands.”

Playing the instrument “was a natural thing for me,” Wilfong said. He taught himself to read music before lessons in class got that far, and in seventh grade, he added guitar to his repertoire.

“I had a friend who taught me three or four chords, then I learned how to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’, like everybody in the world does. And that’s all that I did through college,” he said.

He played bass in a worship team at church in college, then got into youth ministry after he graduated. He was initially part of a three-person team leading a youth praise band, but the other two leaders — a couple of 18-year-olds — quit after two weeks, “so it was all on me,” Wilfong said.

He did that for a while, moved to Waco in 2013, and became the worship leader at Journey Lorena, a non-denomination congregation, in 2014.

Wilfong also plays solo gigs around town, doing covers of music from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. His style and voice have been compared to Gordon Lightfoot, he said, even though Lightfoot’s folk-rock genre wasn’t his early inspiration.

In junior high, he was introduced to AC/DC, then he found Rush, and was blown away by Geddy Lee’s abilities on the bass.

“I would love to be able to play like him,” Wilfong said. “I can’t play 50% of the stuff that they do. If it’s a slow song, I can play it.”

For about a year now, Wilfong has played every Wednesday evening at Segovia Wine Bar, and has a monthly gig at Lounge ‘93. Rush isn’t in his set list.

“It’s all Jim Croce, Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, that type of stuff,” he said. “It’s a really nice vibe. I’m just getting to do the music that I like and the music that folks that are our age haven’t heard in years. I get texts that say things like, ‘My dad just passed away. He loved this music and brought back so many memories.’ So that’s really what I enjoy. I enjoy playing, I enjoy singing, I enjoy getting positive feedback from people and having people tell me, ‘Wow, I haven’t thought of that song forever and it really brought back memories.’”


Day Time Gig

In addition to leading worship at Journey Lorena and playing his solo shows around town, Stan Wilfong has a day job in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University. He’s a senior lecturer and program coordinator in Nutrition Sciences. A registered dietitian, Wilfong worked for more than 20 years in clinical nutrition and food service administration before beginning his teaching career. He oversaw nutrition service departments, food service managers and registered dietitians in nearly 200 facilities in 13 states during his career. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food and nutrition from Texas Tech University.