Big Smith

Big Smith

 Springfield, Missouri, USA

Raucous acoustic music that captures the spirit of their native Ozarks


Springfield, Missouri outfit Big Smith has long cultivated the Ozark hillbilly look, and further it with a tear-ass musical style that puts them in the company of groups like the Gourds and Avett Brothers. They usually look like they've just arrived from a turkey shoot or pig roast, but Big Smith can play high-energy, bluegrass-influenced roots music with anybody on the planet, and everyone in the band can sing like a cherub in a small country church choir. They list their influences as "Grandma, Grandpa and Led Zeppelin," and songs like "Trash," "Burn Down the House" and "12 Inch 3 Speed Oscillating Fan" have all the attention-grabbing, in-your-face energy of a feral hog with a bellyful of loco weed loose in your outhouse. These guys are as feel-good as it gets, so bring your shrink along. They'll cure him, too. — William Michael Smith, Houston Press

Big Smith is a band from Springfield, Missouri composed of five cousins: Mark and Jody Bilyeu, Bill and Rik Thomas, and Jay Williamson. The newest member, fiddle player Molly Healey, brings the total to six creative individuals bound together by blood and harmony.
After coming together professionally in the fall of 1996, they quickly earned a devoted following playing raucous acoustic music that captured the spirit of their native Ozarks, equipped only with an acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass fiddle and washboard. These early gigs demonstrated to unsuspecting audiences what joy and liberation could be found in the raw mojo of indigenous, authentic Ozarks culture; albeit a culture interpreted through the eyes of modern, intellectually astute neo-hillbillies, if you will.
The ten plus years they’ve been together have borne witness to an evolving instrumentation and sonic palate. The original acoustic lineup is still there as a tether to their legacy, but anymore it seems Big Smith simply aspires to be a great American band, regardless of whether the guitars are solid and amplified or woody and earthen.
In 2007 music became the full-time profession for Big Smith, as their expanded touring schedule attests – 2009 will see them playing upwards of 100 shows. They are still adored in their native Ozarks, but years of travel have earned them a place as a Midwest institution. They have made their mark outside their region with several forays to Chicago, Nashville, Austin and Colorado; several tours to the West Coast including two in 2007; and along the length of the Mississippi from the Twin Cities to New Orleans. They have recently enjoyed high-profile opening gigs for the likes of Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, The Avett Brothers and the Del McCoury band. Summer of 2008 found them traveling to Europe for the 21st Annual Country Rendez-Vous Festival in Crappone, France.
The documentary Homemade Hillbilly Jam, profiling the band and the music of their extended family, has garnered rave reviews and a legion of new fans through numerous screenings at film festivals around the world. The DVD has enjoyed wide circulation in Europe and the U.S.A via distribution through First Run Features.
Big Smith is currently in the studio working on their sixth CD to be released Christmas 2009. Meanwhile they continue to enjoy the success of the first five releases that document their many years together.
Their most recent studio CD is a double disc made with their young fans in mind, Hay to Zzzzzz: Hillbilly Songs for Kids. Prior to Hay to Zzzzzz, Big Smith released Gig, another double CD. Long requested by fans, it is a generous sampling of what one can expect from the band's legendary club appearances. The band has also released two celebrated studio CDs - their self-titled debut, and Big Rock. The catalog is rounded out by and a live gospel CD, Live at Lonestar, that pays tribute to their family's musical roots.



Written By: Mark Bilyeu

I ain't white bred
I'm wheat bread
I don't make much money but I'm well fed
I've learned too much
To earn too much
I just don't like walkin' 'round half dead

I ain't no slack jaw
Watchin' Hee Haw
Cause my black and white's ridin on the see saw
You see either way I saw a shade of gray
The extremes are my in-betweens, y'all

Don't call me trash 'till you've slept in my trailer
'Till you've dug up my roots
'Till you've lived in my blues
A man that's on wheels ain't my notion of failure
So come to my trailer
My boudoir to peruse

You come to Nixa
The fuzz'll fix ya
Yea the Spokane cocaine it'll six ya
Cause the redneck knows how the greenbacks flow
They got their bathtubs dopin' up the hicks, yeah

You outclass me
You look past me
You are certain your ideas will outlast me
But when the singing senator
Takes everything you're in it for
You'll wonder why you never thought to ask me


Johnny went to Branson
For to build himself a mansion
But the pretty magicians were holdin' hillbillies for ransom
Now Johnny doesn't go
To the Pharisee show
Cause he's mobile like a walkin' son of man, son

It may be corn meal
But it's the real deal
I think I'll walk the other way on the treadwheel
Me and the homebilly clan
Livin' in our tin cans
From the huckleberry ridge to the boot heel


Go Away, Maggie

Written By: Jody Bilyeu

Go away, Maggie!
The children are crying in their beds.
I can smell the smoke and whiskey on you
Humming in a cloud around your head.
You look just like the devil
The way your brown eyes glow bright red--
The way your brown eyes glow bright red.

Shut your mouth, baby!
How can you laugh at the things you do?
Our kids are afraid to call your name--
You don't believe it but it's true.
You were brought up better, baby--
What in the hell's become of you?
What in the hell has become of you?

Go away, Maggie, go away!
Go away, Maggie, go away!
It don't matter how I found out
Don't matter who's to blame.
I've just got to find a way to live my life again.
Go away, Maggie, go away.

Sleep tonight where you've been sleeping--
We'll be gone when you get home.
We can't wait for the chickens to come back to roost--
I think the fox got everyone.
But come the day of judgment
You'll be sorry you were born.
You'll be sorry you were born.



"Big Smith" self-titled debut
"Live at Lonestar" live gospel CD
"Big Rock"
"Gig" 2 Disc live album
"Hay to Zzzzzz: Hillbilly Songs for Kids" 2 Disc album

Set List

Two one hour-15 minute sets