"With raw, emotional vocals and a country/acoustic vibe, this band captures audiences from the first chord of its new EP, "The Losing Hand." - AM New York
"Intelligent music that is both well written and performed" - Too Old To Rock & Roll...Too Young To Die
Greg Smith and The Broken English are a NYC-based folk-rock band led by Western Massachusetts native, Greg Daniel Smith. Drawn to music at an early age, Smith spent his formative years engrossed in the music of rock bands like Nirvana, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, but it wasn't until discovering the music of the now late Dave Carter that Smith found a deep appreciation for folk and country music and realized his calling as a songwriter.
Smith's passion for performing led him to New York City where he penned the songs for the band's debut album, "Times Like These," which chronicles the hardships he encountered during his first couple of years as a city dweller--the guilt of leaving behind the family farm, adjusting to the hustle of life in the big city, and struggling to make ends meet without a college degree. Though many of Smith's songs are based in personal experience, their themes speak to everyday folks from all walks of life. Eager to take his songs to another level, Smith gradually began recruiting musicians to back him up and Greg Smith and The Broken English was born.
The band plays a heartfelt mix of folk, rock, country, and soul that has captured the attention of audiences and industry folks alike. Notable achievements include:
- having the song, "Livin' Like a Joker" featured on Music for Occupy's debut compilation, "Occupy This Album," ( released 5/15/12) alongside artists like Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Crosby and Nash, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, and many more;
- winning the "Your Shot to Rock" competition hosted by NYC-based 101.9 RXP (at the time the most listened to Adult Rock radio station in the country) in 2011;
- being nominated for Best Story Song by the 2010 Independent Music Awards;
- having the debut album, Times Like These, climb to the #1 postition on independent music site, Amie Street in 2010;
- touring the East Coast and performing at SXSW in 2011.
In addition to regular performances at some of NYC's most revered clubs, including Rockwood Music Hall, City Winery, The Studio at Webster Hall, The Bitter End, Southpaw, The Gramercy Theatre, and Spike Hill, the band has played numerous festivals, including The CBGB Festival, SXSW, The Keene Music Festival, The Black Potatoe Festival, The Seaside Music Festival, the Take Me to the River Festival in Westchester, NY, The Boog City Poetry and Music Festival in Brooklyn, NY, the NYC Best of Indie Festival, the Pier Sessions in Hoboken, NJ, and the Spring Fling in Hastings, NY.
In Spring 2012, the band released their single "Spare Me Eliza" which was recorded with renowned producer Machine. The song will be featured on the band's third studio album and in summer 2012 the band launched and successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to record the new album. Greg Smith and The Broken English are currently working on their third studio album at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NY, which is slated for release in Fall 2013.
Greg Daniel Smith - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Dayna Gross - Backing Vocals
Josh Chaplin - Guitar, Accordion, and Mandolin
Jon Callegari - Bass
Sean Tuccillo - Drums
The Losing Hand (c) 2011
Times Like These (c) 2010
A Taste of It All, Troubled Troubadour, Forget Where You Are, and Haylie from "Times Like These" have each received airplay on one or more radio stations around the country, including WRSI in Northampton, MA; WRXP in New York, NY; KFAN in Fredericksburg, TX; KVNF in Carbondale, CO; KVMR in Nevada City, CA; and KPND in Sandpoint, ID, among others.
AM New York Picks
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With raw, emotional vocals and a country/acoustic vibe, this band captures audiences from the first ...With raw, emotional vocals and a country/acoustic vibe, this band captures audiences from the first chord of its new EP, "The Losing Hand."
Greg Smith and The Broken English - The Losing Hand
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Greg Smith and the Broken English's newest e.p. "The Losing Hand" is a really good example of what i...Greg Smith and the Broken English's newest e.p. "The Losing Hand" is a really good example of what is so great about music today. So many artists now have the ability to get their music out with being beholden to a major. Leave the pop music to the masses. This is intelligent music that is both well written and performed. Intelligent music for intelligent people.
Greg Smith is a singer-songwriter currently based in Brooklyn who writes songs of struggle and pain that could hardly be described as upbeat, but The Broken English move many of these songs along with strong playing that at times departs from the typical folk singer approach.
The title track is a stand out as is Spare Me Eliza. Good stuff here.
Amerikabrev vol. 2
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(Translated from the original Norwegian) Next up are Greg Smith & The Broken English. Their new EP,...(Translated from the original Norwegian)
Next up are Greg Smith & The Broken English. Their new EP, "The Losing Hand," came out three weeks ago, on March 8 to be exact. Massachusetts-native Greg Smith has moved to Brooklyn and is taking part in the creative and constantly evolving alternative music scene in that area. Greg Smith and The Broken English have created a mini-album with six strong songs, both musically and lyrically. At times they remind you of one of this blog's favorites, Cory Chisel. The songs are melodic and quite dark in the lyrics, with emphasis on a tough everyday life. There is so much positive energy and talent in this band and it's a highly recommended album. Favorite Tracks: Spare Me Eliza and Wanderin 'Soul.
Greg Smith and the Broken English – The Losing Hand (ep)
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(translated from the original Dutch) Greg has an artistic singer-songwriter talent that brings fo...(translated from the original Dutch)
Greg has an artistic singer-songwriter talent that brings forward beautiful melodies. Last year's folk rock cd "Time Like These" of Greg Smith and his four piece backing band The Broken English went mostly unnoticed. Now there is the follow up “The Losing Hand”. It deserves a better fate and we hope it'll get noticed.
The EP with six original songs is a pleasant record that strikes the right (acoustic and some electric) chords. It does it's own thing, raw and free of self-centered intellectual bullshit. The recording shines with a pleasure in playing, loose and unforced. The sublime vocals of Greg Smith and newcomer Dayna Gross pull the listener into a world of love and hope. Wonderful songs that get their roots out of folk, rock and country. There is no room for prefabricated emotions on The Losing Hand, only strong melodies with a soul. The raw production that leaves the sound free and accesible deserves a double thumbs up.
Greg Smith and the Broken English – ‘The Losing Hand EP’
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“The Losing Hand” is the latest release from Greg Smith and his band The Broken English. They rel...“The Losing Hand” is the latest release from Greg Smith and his band The Broken English.
They released debut album “Times Like This” in 2010, and this year sees the bands first national tour as they play at SXSW!
”The Losing Hand” is an EP filled with harmonic acoustic folk combined with some suitable lyrics. The songs are made up in a way that makes you both listen to them and let them sum in the background.
The opening track “Spare Me Eliza” is a grower that starts up with a slowly style, and develop as it goes. It also consists of two vocals that complement each other, something you also can hear in the rest of the songs.
The musical ensemble with acoustic guitars, emotional and well written lyrics are what makes this band as good as it is.
THE LOSING HAND, by Greg Smith and The Broken English - a review
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If you sit down with THE LOSING HAND, prepare yourself for one lovely dopamine bath. The EP belies t...If you sit down with THE LOSING HAND, prepare yourself for one lovely dopamine bath. The EP belies the notion that music needs a chamber orchestra and seven synthesizers to be lush and layered. It's at times sparsh and lush simultaneously, which makes no sense at all, but there it is. Greg's voice is rough and warm, and the instrumentation is superb...finding this kind of balance eludes so many artists. This NY band is a current IMA award nominee, in the story song category. I haven't heard them live, something i plan to rectify.
"Spare Me Eliza"
A tale of growth and loss. Eliza (vocals by Dayna Gross) answers Greg's Johnny, from the ruins of love gone dry. But the music is too powerful to be reduced to sadness. It transports you to a place where your eyes close and you can feel it resonate, long after the song is done.
A strolling, boozy lament. I have trouble keeping my percussive hands still when i'm enjoying a song (which is fine at home, but borders on being distracting at a live venue). If you have that problem too, stay away from this one. The hooks are irresistible.
"Hey What's the Use"
A track that's almost too real to be enjoyable, a poetic conversation between a lonely singer in a big city and his mom back on the farm. If you like a little starkness and desperation, this one's for you. The music appropriately takes a back seat to the lyric for a while, but in the final section of the song you can feel the musician's passion go from words to the music that sustains his soul - and it's beautiful, with powerful mother harmonies from Dayna.
"Livin' Like a Joker"
Layered, marching, hypnotic, a perfect song to go mindless to. A much-extended version at a bonfire drum circle would be so nice.
"Ain't That Bad, Just Bein' Sad"
A wistful song with a strange message.
An existentially nihilistic song that even makes ME want to drink. I think Greg wrote this so that the bar owners he plays for would be happy, as patrons call for another round to dull the pain. Very sneaky.
Greg Smith and The Broken English
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The six-song EP Losing Hand is Smith's second release and the first to feature backing vocals from n...The six-song EP Losing Hand is Smith's second release and the first to feature backing vocals from new band member Dayna Gross. Gross' vocals often provide a softer counterpoint to Smith's darker lyrical content in addition to just blending well with his vocals. Musically, most of the songs here are based around acoustic melodies and built up from there to into fully fleshed out moody folk grooves.
Greg Smith and The Broken English
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Greg Smith and The Broken English are a folk, rock band from Brooklyn, New York. They have a new alb...Greg Smith and The Broken English are a folk, rock band from Brooklyn, New York. They have a new album that is going to be out on March 1st, and it is the suggestion of this blog to check it out. This is not the distant, out dated folk sound that many people are used to. This is a band that brings elements in from many places and stirs them up to create an orchestra of depth. In some ways they sound a bit like the Black Crows in some of their slower work. Even though they have a very acoustic structure, the sound does not come off that way. There is definitely a rock feel to the songs, but they remain grounded in a unique style. This is not a band that hasn’t worked for all of what they have. It ‘s easy to hear how this is a true passion, and not just a romantic dream. This is told through the lyrics on the tracks of their new album. It's a feeling that everyone has had at sometime, but Greg Smith and The Broken English have the pure ability to connect to it through song
Exclusive Interview with Greg of Greg Smith and the Broken English
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Our Webzine recently spoke to Greg Smith of Greg Smith and The Broken English about Smith's music an...Our Webzine recently spoke to Greg Smith of Greg Smith and The Broken English about Smith's music and his wonderful sound that captures the essence of who Greg Smith is and what he represents musically. Greg spoke openly about why he enjoys making music, who are some of his musical influences, and what drives him and his backing band to push on to make the cool music that they do. Here is what came from that online conversation.
Isaac: Let’s get started with this interview. When and how did you first become interested in music? How long have you been playing music?
Greg: I think it was when I learned my first song on the piano. Actually, it was an organ my late grandmother had and I figured out “Row Row Row your Boat.” I was about eight years old and later that year my parents got me a little Yamaha keyboard for my birthday. I didn’t take lessons but was pretty proficient with sounding out notes and gained the ability to play by ear somewhat. Later I started playing saxophone and drums in the school band. Looking back, for growing up in such a small town, I was fortunate to have such a devoted and inspiring music teacher, Beth Bryant.
From fourth to sixth grade we had a concert band as well as a jazz band where I became a switch hitter playing sax on some tunes and drums on others. I continued playing right through the eighth grade in the school bands till I got my hands on a guitar. The next year I put down the horn and the sticks and joined a rock band. I’ve never turned back.
Isaac: Who would you say are your biggest musical influences and why?
Greg: So, so many, but to focus on the ones that really had the greatest impact, I would say Nirvana, The Beatles and a singer/songwriter named Dave Carter. I got into Nirvana because they were big right at the time I started playing guitar and the songs were really easy to play. I even saw them live, a few months before Cobain died. It was my first concert. It was fucking awesome. I got into The Beatles a couple years later as my ability to play guitar improved. Experiencing each one of their albums was like reading one great novel after another; I couldn’t stop turning the pages or put it down. I totally developed my sense of harmony from listening to those records and also learned like a hundred new guitar chords.
Sometime around the age of 23 I fell in love with the music of Dave Carter. Shockingly he died unexpectedly a couple months after I met and saw him perform. I would describe him as a mystical cowboy. He’s best known for his work as a duet with Tracy Grammer (www.daveandtracy.com). His songs, musically and lyrically, are so deep but so simplistic. He always said that he wrote his songs from dreams he’d had, which is probably why they are so mystifying. If not for him I probably wouldn’t have found a love for good country music, and probably would not have written half the songs on “Times Like These”.
Isaac: What has been the greatest highpoint in your career so far?
Greg: I’d really have to say two things.
1. Finishing “Times Like These.” It’s my first solo album. I’ve recorded a few EP’s and two full-length albums with some earlier bands I was in but I was always one half or one third of the writing force. This one is all me as far as the writing is concerned. My backing band “The Broken English” are fantastic skilled musicians who give me the ability to structure and build songs almost anyway I like. I think we did a great job with what we had, to come out with a record that represents me and won’t be subject to passing stylistic fads. Its kinda folk, kinda rock, and a little bit country.
2. I played a show last summer where after the event was over myself, the band, and many others were camping nearby. I was having a conversation with someone when I noticed a group of people gathered around the campfire were singing one of my songs at the top of their lungs. It was the first time I’d heard people singing my words and melodies, without me being a direct part of it, and it was one of the warmest, most gratifying moments a songwriter could ask for.
Isaac: What has been the greatest disappointment in your career so far? What did you learn from that experience?
Greg: It was probably when we drove seven hours to Virginia to play at this house party that was supposed to have like five hundred people attending and before the party even got started the cops shut it down because the guy collecting money for parking told the police that the money he was collecting was to help pay for all the beer. Needless to say they didn’t have a license to sell beer so the police were not very enthused.
I guess the only thing I learned from this experience was don’t let an idiot collect parking money. And if you do, make sure he knows NOT to tell the police that the money is for beer when you’re throwing a huge party and have no liquor license.
Isaac: What draws you to want to play the type of music that you do?
Greg: I’m pretty much drawn to playing anything that elicits my emotion and/or tells a good story, as long as it feels authentic.
Isaac: What do you feel it takes to play this type of music that you play?
Greg: heart and lungs.
Isaac: What do you think you will create that will make your performances and who you are stand out in the music industry?
Greg: Other than vibrant energy and emotional delivery of songs that reflect the common struggles of everyday people, I guess a little diversity. I don’t see a lot of solo, singer songwriter style artists that emphasize creating a catalogue of work that is diverse and dynamic. It seems to me that many just have one sound and can’t or don’t deviate much from that sound.
Since my background is in performing many styles of popular music, I strive to make that apparent in my live performances and my writing. Though “Times Like These” is a very acoustic album the next one we’re working on now will show a more up-tempo and diverse side of Greg Smith and The Broken English. I don’t really want to stand out in the industry as anything other than a great songwriter and performer whose songs people love to listen to and sing along with.
Isaac: If you had the opportunity to do one cover, what cover would you do and why? How would you put your own spin on this cover?
Greg: I’ve had opportunities to cover many songs throughout the years. I usually choose songs that I really love. And because I really love them, arrangement and all, I really don’t feel it necessary to put much of a personal spin on them. If I couldn’t sing a song convincingly, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. Right now we’re working on a Patty Griffin tune I love called Flaming Red.
Isaac: What does it take to be a good songwriter?
Greg: Balls. You gotta have really big bouncy balls that you can bounce around the room like ideas in your head. Each ball has a word or concept on it and as you toss them back and forth you formulate song ideas based on which balls land on the left and which ones land...… just kidding.
I believe good songs need to be engaging, like good literature that makes you want to keep reading. Though even when they don’t catch you right from the start, providing they build to something worthwhile, that does the job too I’d say. I feel like that’s the case with one of my favorite pieces on “Times…” Another Day Young.
It’s very dark and somber but builds to great intensity and emotion. To write a great song the message or story as well as the person singing it needs to be relatable. If you can’t identify with the emotion or character of the song, whether it’s upbeat feel good music, sad story telling or politically charged revolution songs, you’re not going to have much of a connection to the music. I’ve heard plenty of good songs sung badly and bad ones sung well. I think good songwriting is often only as good as the person performing the material. (Sorry my answer only pertains to songs with lyrics, there are many amazing instrumental songs).
Isaac: How difficult is it to juggle music, family and work obligation, and life in general? Explain.
Greg: My day job as a gardener can be pretty demanding, especially at this time of the year, making it difficult to find the time or the energy to work on my music as much as I’d like. This can be extremely frustrating considering how much time and effort is required, as an independent artist, to promote yourself and get your music out there.
Isaac: What is your definition of being an Indie artist/band?
Greg: I guess anybody who’s an independent artist could consider themselves indie, isn’t that where the term comes from? But where I currently live I’m probably the farthest thing from what most people consider to be “indie.” Here in Brooklyn, there are a lot of people making “indie” music that’s a lot more quirky and ironic than the music I see myself doing.
Isaac: Where can fans access your music online?
Facebook, iTunes, Amazon, CDbaby, Youtube, Myspace, Last.fm, Jango, Reverbnation…
Isaac: In five years…….
Greg: I hope to have at least two more albums completed and to really still be making a go of it as a performer. I’ve got a lot of good music in me and I need to get it out. I hope I have a chance to do that in my lifetime.
The band is accustomed to playing the standard 45 minute set that is the norm in NYC but has upwards of two hours of original material.
Depending on the venue, the band can do a full-on six-piece band set or tone it down for more laid back acoustic shows as well as intimate solo performances.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.