First, the short version...
I'm a singing, song/writing, ceramist (can you say that fast?). I was a small part of the folk revival in the 60s. I love to share the great joy I feel when I'm singing (yep, joy even in the sad songs). After scramblin' to help support kids and family for 40 years and going through a divorce after a 25 year marriage (hey, there's inspiration for the blues), I'm re-inventing myself and having major fun. Last year I won the Willamette Valley music Festival Singer/songwriter contest, started to host a house concert series, and am playing venues solo and with Marilyn O'Malley and Holly Gwinn Graham, Jim Page and others. I love to do venues where I can share my music and ceramic art together.
If you want more, keep readin'.
I believe that music and art can connect us to what means most in life… to each other in our uniqueness and commonality of experience, and to the patterns of beauty and rhythm all around us.
I grew up at the edge of the expanding muscle city of Chicago,watching the fields and woods where I played disappear. As a kid I listened to the folk songs my mom and her sisters sang and to the records she played...Woody Guthry, The Weavers, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Tennessee Ernie Ford. Edith Piaf. Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Spike Jones, Harry Belafonte and all of the '30s & 40s big dance bands. In my early teens rock and roll exploded on the scene...Bill Haley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The big Bopper, The Everly Brothers, Neil Sedaka, Roy Orbison and more. In my late teens I got turned on to the many blues and Jazz radio stations emenating from the south side..Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, Donald Byrd, Bo Diddly, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sam Cooke and so many more... and the under age venues where I could go see Dizzy Gilespy, Cannon Ball Adderly, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and then Bavan.
Then it was off to college (before dropping out), where I spent way too much time drinkin' tax free Amana wine and listening to Lightnin' Hopkins, Brownie Mcghee and Sonny Terry, Ray Charles and Andres Segovia or playin' my guitar in the wee hours in the dorm bath rooms with my ear pressed against the sound board. That's when I started writing songs.
I went west and turned 21 in the South Bay area of LA where I was a small part of the 60s folk revival, playing venues in Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beach. I sang my songs, traditionals and covers. Some of my influences then were Dylan, Bob Gibson, Judy Collins, Tim Buckley, Phil Oakes, Leonard Cohen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Brown, Buffy Sainte Marie,Hoyt Axton, Tom Paxton, Fred Engleberg...
In 1968 & 69 I started family and moved to the north west. With other jobs I became an Artist and Crafts person to support my family. I was at the first 5 country (then Renaissance) fairs and then joined the Eugene and then Portland Saturday Markets at their inception. I wound up with a “day job” as a potter and ceramic artist. I sold at fairs all over the west. I always had a guitar or banjo in my booth and played between sales. I kept my music alive. Over the years there has been an eclectic explosion in what I listen to and what influences me from folk to blues to alt country, to bluegrass, to Celtic, to Latin to African, to Indian to Mid Eastern music...There is so much wonderful music and so many wonderful artists today.
Over the past few years I have been returning to the passion of my first love...singing and writing songs for my supper. I really love the connection and communication I get with people in small venues like house concerts and I love to combine my music with small displays of my ceramic art. I have to admit though, it was a heck of a thrill to play a big venue like the Cuthbert in Eugene OR after winning the Willamette Valley Music Festival singer/songwriter contest last May.
Karl Smiley on vocals and guitars and sometimes harmonica or banjo and often whistling. (I've been an unconscious whistler since I was a little kid. I pretty much gave up on my harmonica and its' annoying neck holder when I found that people really like my whistling breaks...don't need to think about 'em and they come out a little different every time depending.)
I have 6 self produced CDs to date; On The Road Of The Living, Indian Plum, Bad Case Of Love, When The Oil Is Gone Roll With The Punches and my newest Better Day..
Out to the Sea
I believe in You
Smile in the Mornin'
love will find a way
Peace(Piece) & Freedom
Drink the Rain
KARL SMILEY: WHEN THE OIL IS GONE
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SC01 CD Shingle Creek Prod., 20464 Shingle Creek Rd, Blodgett, OR 97326 Karl’s performance is authe...SC01 CD Shingle Creek Prod., 20464 Shingle Creek Rd, Blodgett, OR 97326
Karl’s performance is authentic and uncluttered by fluff, allowing a wide-range of expression and ideas to shine through. His versatile, often driving guitar work blends with powerful, appealingly masculine vocals to emote deep passion, tenderness, and a little whimsy now and again. The title song, “When the Oil is Gone” as one might guess, is a plea for ecological sanity. “Thirsty,” a song about setting chokers, captures a uniquely northwest slice of life. “Bear” is a contented love song with some quirky little gems thrown in. My personal favorite is “Love Will Find a Way,” a dynamic and moving song about overcoming war and hatred that showcases Karl’s ability to cut to the heart of things. These well-crafted songs were recorded by Michael Riley, with Karl playing either his Washburn in standard tuning or his Yamaha in open D, E, or F. I highly recommend checking out this earthy and genuine songwriter from Summit, Oregon.
Home / News / Local Music fills the Coast Range once more
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Home / News / Local Music fills the Coast Range once more StoryDiscussionBy Kathi Downing, For t... Home / News / Local
Music fills the Coast Range once more
StoryDiscussionBy Kathi Downing, For the Gazette-Times | Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:05 pm | 1 Comment
Font Size:Default font sizeLarger font sizeAnyone who has ever attended the annual talent show in Summit probably has heard the husky voice and bluesy guitar of local singer and songwriter Karl Smiley. This long-time Summit resident has missed only one performance since the talent show tradition began - the day his youngest son, Lee, was born.
For Karl, that first talent show in 1985 was a sort of revival. He had more or less hung up his guitar in the years since the 1960s, when he supplemented his income by playing and singing in beach bars down in South Bay, near Los Angeles.
Born in the Chicago area, Karl grew up listening to the Jesse Owens and other blues /jazz/pop shows on the radio. By the time he was 16, he was writing his own tunes. When he received a guitar on his 17th birthday, a musician was born.
During his one year at Grinnell College, Karl worked on his guitar playing more than his class work, so he left school and, like many Midwesterners before and after him, he headed to the West Coast to seek his fame and fortune.
Six years later, tired of the L.A. scene, Karl headed up to Oregon, where he ultimately landed in Summit. That was in 1969, the beginning of the second Great Migration. He supported himself and his family by doing leatherwork, a skill he had picked up in SoCal. After a fire burned up his home and livelihood in 1982, Karl turned to a trade that couldn't be completely destroyed by fire - pottery.
For many years, Karl was known around the area primarily as a ceramicist. After many appearances on the stage at the local talent show and Summit Summer Festival, people began to consider him a singer, songwriter and guitarist as well. It wasn't until three or four years ago when Karl cut back on the pottery business that he decided to seriously pursue his passion for music. Since then, he has been performing at small venues at the coast and in the valley. Last May, he made the big time, playing Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugene after winning the Willamette Valley Music Festival singer/songwriter contest.
These days, Karl also is putting his energy into bringing music from around the country and world to our tiny Coast Range community. Through the Far West Folk Alliance, he has connected with a variety of musicians, a few of whom he has convinced to play for us. Last October, he brought well-known and talented Seattle singer/songwriter Jim Page to Summit.
Wyoming guitar player and songwriter Walter Strauss will be playing a house concert in Summit on Thursday, Feb. 11. Walter's interest in African music has influenced his own work, adding a new twist on a folk style.
On March 21, Karl has invited Joan Enguita and Women On the Move from Lancaster, Calif., to Summit, and in July, German Hans York will bring his jazzy folk music to our area. On Oct. 17, Karl has arranged for Jenni and Billy to entertain us with their southwestern Virginia bluegrass tunes.
Anyone interested in attending the Feb. 11 event (or any of the others) can contact Karl at 541-456-4591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We glad that reaching retirement age has inspired Karl to renew his passion for music by entertaining us with his own unique style as well as introducing us to other musicians from afar. Anyone wishing to see Karl perform in the Corvallis area can check out the schedule at Fireworks or Winestyles.
I don't usually have a set list I follow. I currently have about 4 hours of polished material. Sometimes I can drag up more that I thought I forgot. What I sing next is very dependent my rapport and communication with the audience and the general mood. Of course the songs I have most recently written or learned and put my spin on are my faves and will definitely be part of my performance. Let's see, right now that would be 4 o'clock in the mornin' and ready to play (mine) and Wagon Wheel, The Patriot Song and She Walked
Through the Corn. I will always play my "hope " songs, I Believe in You and Love Will Find a Way.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.