MUSIC BOX: Music Fixture Releases Debut

By on October 11, 2016

Justin Smith celebrates his new release and valley sinners unite for the Devil Makes Three Redemption and Ruin Tour.

A wordsmith and pupil of philosophy, musician Justin Smith is gearing up to celebrate a project that’s been a long time in the making.

A wordsmith and pupil of philosophy, musician Justin Smith is gearing up to celebrate a project that’s been a long time in the making.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – For more than two decades Justin Smith has been a dynamic staple of the local music scene. A long time in the making, Smith will proudly release his debut solo album of original material, Sprinklers in the Rain, with double release parties on both sides of the Tetons.

Aside from his subtly smooth rhythm guitar playing and high lonesome West Coast vocals in his current bands One Ton Pig, Bootleg Flyer and Two Dollar Bill, Smith has proved to be adept at maintaining a do-it-yourself local music career. He emceed the infamous Friday night open mic “Joe’s Garage” for 10 years, served as president of JH Music Experience, taught guitar for Central Wyoming College, acted as musical director for the musical Cumberland Blues, and plays the manager/booking agent role in his projects. Smith was also a founding member of Mandatory Air, Free Roaming Buffalo Heard, Sister Smith, and Grass.

In 2005, Smith gave me a copy of his published book of poetry and ramblings, On the Verge of Knowing Nothing. He’s a quirky, thoughtfully purging writer able to observe the most simplistic and organic threads in life, all the while encompassing deeper thought-provoking themes. Musically, Smith brings a breezy, grassy folk-rock vibe.

“This album is similar to the model I used for On the Verge of Knowing Nothing in that it’s a collection of songs from a long span of years,” Smith said. “For instance, ‘Happy Day,’ was written in California about 30 years ago, whereas the title track ‘Sprinklers in the Rain’ is a new tune. ‘Pick Pocket’ was written when I first moved to Jackson. I had long hair and was dancing to a band at the Mangy Moose with a butt pack on (laughs). I sat the bag down for a second and somebody stole it with my wallet inside.”

The tracks were selected from a sampling of about 100 songs. Smith, who studied philosophy in grad school, says he has always been in search of his own macro philosophy. “These songs really express that from my own vantage point and that is the true guidance. ‘Dead Man’s Bells’ is about a poisonous flower, yet there’s still a macro philosophy within the lyrics,” he said. “I can look back at this collection and see clues into my thought process, which is a really cool thing for me.”

Primarily engineered and mixed by Rob Sidle, who also contributes bass to about half of the album, it took almost a year to complete the project. Initial tracking began as early as eight years ago in San Francisco with Smith’s brother, Derek, who played a major role in the project and contributed drums, percussion, vocals, keys and steel drums. Derek will be in town from California to perform at the release parties. Other studio guests include Grammy winning guitarist Mike Dowling, Tony Furtado, and Ross Martin, as well as locals Tim Farris, Matt Herron, The Miller Sisters, Jon Degroot, Michael Batdorf, Andy Mahoney, Kyle Johnson, Marshall Davis and John Kidwell, among others.

In the title track, Smith sings: “1,000 words that keep me up all night, I’m tired of all these words and the meaning that’s been blurred … when I hear these words again and again it’s like sprinklers in the rain.” While Smith is literally a “wordsmith,” he’s not singing about song craft or organizing thoughts for penning a poem, but rather an observation of modern culture.

“All these words, the talking heads, everybody’s blah blah and overanalyzing everything. They’re forgetting simplistic humanity and togetherness,” Smith said of the lead track’s theme. “When I go to sleep, there are all these words from the week, the day, and I’ve been trying to quiet the noise through Buddhist type practices.”

Justin Smith album release parties, 7:30 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, October 18 at the Silver Dollar Showroom; 7:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday, October 20 at the Knotty Pine (all-ages), and tune into KHOL 89.1FM 9:30 a.m. Monday, October 17 for a two-song studio performance. All shows are free. JustinSmithMusic.com.

Go ahead and sin, then repent at the Pink Garter with The Devil Makes Three... and then sin again.

Go ahead and sin, then repent at the Pink Garter with The Devil Makes Three… and then sin again.

Be ruined and redeemed with The Devil

Whether it’s a tiny dive bar or a mega festival, The Devil Makes Three is a charismatic experience to behold in person. The throwback splice of neo-ragtime, folk, country, punk, gospel, jug band, bluegrass and gypsy jazz comes through the speakers in a double guitar and bass trio format. While drummer-less, the groove would have you think otherwise, and dancers would agree.

The San Francisco-based act of New Englanders have put out six albums—four studio and two live—including the Buddy Miller-produced I’m a Stranger Here, which crept into the Billboard 200. Their 2016 release Redemption & Ruin is a covers album that devotes half of the set to “ruin” and the other half to “redemption.” According to bassist Lucia Turino, the album “introduces our fans to the music that influences us.” Those influences include Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Tampa Red, Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams.

Hankering for the past while producing music that fits in the modern sphere, the band of 15 years is a mid-October blessing in Jackson Hole. Tennessee duo Lost Dog Street Band opens the show with their flavor of dark, moody country.

The Devil Makes Three with Lost Dog Street Band, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 13 at the Pink Garter Theatre. $29.50 to $35. PinkGarterTheatre.com.

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

161012music_planetpicks

161012music_planetpicks-2THURsday

The Devil Makes Three with Lost Dog Street Band (Pink Garter Theatre)

FRIday

ACDC cover band Fire & Guns! (Town Square Tavern); Pam Drews Phillips Trio (The Granary); Bootleg Flyer (Silver Dollar)

SATurday

Bootleg Flyer (Silver Dollar); DJ Capella (Town Square Tavern)

SUNday

Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach); Open Mic (Pinky G’s)

Monday

JH Hootenanny (Dornan’s)

TUESday

Justin Smith Album Release Party (Silver Dollar)

Comments

comments


About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login