Featured Artist of June 27, 2019
with the song: Igniting the Flamme

The critical raves for Scott Smith’s 2016 debut album The Sum of Life found the emerging Americana country rocker earning praise for his “strong homage to rock and roll” and “vocals that call to mind Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.” Vocal comparisons are great, but let’s also pay respect to the thoughtful poetry of his lyrics. On “My Soul to Keep,” the high energy, horn fired track that lays the spiritual foundation of his latest EP Igniting the Flame, the singer/songwriter waxes poetic about his own burgeoning career – and by extension, ponders just where all of us are headed. He sings, “God bless the light that shows the way/There’s some black and white then some grey/Invest in your future, plant some seeds/It wouldn’t be a journey if you know where it leads.” Then there’s the extreme addictiveness of his songs, which, just like music did in the old days, makes you want to listen over and over.
Thus far, Smith’s journey as an indie artist has taken him to places – and opened the door to exciting collaborations – far beyond where he dreamed growing up in the Bay Area absorbing the insights of his first guitar teacher, David Nelson of The New Riders of the Purple Sage. “The SF music scene greatly inspired me along with birth of the 60’s music,” he says. “My older brother introduced a lot music to me. I bought my first Grateful Dead album when I was six. But I loved the Stones and Beatles, Cream, all that stuff, too. There was so much happening musically living in the Bay Area at that time. It was very alive. It was great to learn from David and listen to stories of the birth of the Bay Area music scene and legends like Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. What inspired those performers were old time music and old blues.”
The Sum of Life featured guest performances by virtuoso classical and rock violinist David LaFlamme (Dr. John, The Doors), acoustic guitarist Nina Gerber (Kate Wolf), boogie woogie pianist Mitch Woods (John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite), among others. For his more Americana driven follow-up EP Down To Memphis, Smith invited legendary mandolinist David Grisman, a longtime friend of Jerry Garcia, to play on a rollicking tribute to the Grateful Dead.
Likewise, Igniting the Flame finds Scott upping his musical game with LaFlamme, keyboardist Spencer Burroughs (who also played on Down To Memphis) , veteran “Tonight Show” and Mavis Staples backup singer Vickie Randall, veteran trombonist and horn arranger Mike Rinta and saxophonist Paul Branin (Levon Helm). To help him with his vocal production, Smith turned to producer Julie Wolf (Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco) at the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, where CCR and Santana, among other legends, have recorded.
Other key tracks on the new EP include another rambunctious horn-drenched rocker “Drop Kick It,” Smith’s whimsical, upbeat response to a bad day, featuring the line “Wondering where it all went wrong/How did your life become a country song?”; the edgy rocker “Bulls Eye to my Heart,” which blends images from TV with a romp about falling hard for someone; and “Rolling Home,” which finds Smith rising to the challenge of writing a highly memorable traditional blues song “In addition to stronger vocals, Igniting the Flame reflects my progress as a songwriter who can write about meaningful things but keep everything fun and catchy,” Smith says. “This EP is definitely a step up from my previous projects.
While I’m honoring the great artists that have influenced me, I’m also staying on the fringe. I like being on the outside of the mainstream. On the edge. I like giving a positive message, even in downer songs. I like rock because it lifts my spirits, takes me out of my funk and reminds me to let go of fears and just live.

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