Damon Smith
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Damon Smith


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"RV Magazine features Damon Smith"

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http://www.damonsmithmusic.com/magazine.htm - RV Magazine

"Smith infuses country with rock and roll"

Chris J. Starrs
Staff Correspondent

Oklahoma native Damon Smith takes the old Donny and Marie axiom of "a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll" to an interesting extreme - he's country all right, but there's no lack of rock in his approach.

"I like to think of myself as Garth Brooks meets John Cougar Mellencamp, because they're my main influences," said Smith, who's been kicking around Nashville for the past decade and may soon be moving up the ladder as a national artist.

"I'm not like anybody else in the business - my persona is quite different from any other country performer. I listen to good storytelling country music and fun country songs, but I still love AC/DC, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and John Mellencamp. We mix all those influences into my shows."

Along with his band the Beautiful Mistakes, Smith will perform at the 5 O'clock Somewhere Bar and Grill in Covington on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. He recently played an industry showcase in his adopted hometown and created quite a buzz among the titans of the country music industry, so it may not be long before Smith moves beyond the clubs and takes the next step along his career path.

"We had a phenomenal turnout," said Smith of his showcase performance. "There were representatives from several major record labels, booking agents, producers and managers there. I have been in talks with a major label and I've got a good feeling things are going to pop for me soon. They were saying all I need is a hit song on the radio. There's no development required - I've been on the road playing 175 to 200 dates a year for the past 10 years."

The son of a funeral home director in Ada, Okla., and an outstanding high school and collegiate wrestler (he was a member of Oklahoma State University's 1994 national champion wrestling team), Smith moved to Nashville with no connections and no sympathetic supporters - he basically had a guitar and an ironclad will to make it in music.

"Being a wrestler instilled a character in my personality that has helped me in this business," he said. "I've got leather-thick skin and a tough heart and soul, which is helpful when you keep hearing the word 'no.' But this business, like life, is a wrestling match - and this is a match I'm going to win. That background is big in my heart and it drives me every day."

Smith was able to make friends with Brooks (himself a former Oklahoma State athlete) and realized that it would take more than a pleasing voice and a couple of catchy songs to make a career.

"I've been in Nashville since 1997 and I've seen so many artists come and go," he said. "And I wondered how somebody could have a hit record and then just sort of disappear. I realized it was because they weren't entertainers. Garth is somebody I have always looked up to and it was from him that I learned how to be an entertainer. And the only place I could learn that was to go on the road for as many as 200 shows a year, finding out what songs worked and what songs didn't.

"People react to entertainers. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney don't have the greatest voices in the business, but they know how to entertain people. There are plenty of guys out there who can sing me under the table, but country music is all about connecting with the fans. If they accept you, you're in for life. Keeping your fan base together is what country music is about."

Smith's foray in recording yielded an interesting result in 2006 when his song "Jesus Runs With a Rough Crowd" found favor with Christian and inspirational radio stations all over the country.

"It's been the weirdest thing," he said. "I was working with this producer who thought the song would fit my voice, so we cut the thing and he advised me to take it to radio stations and plug it while I was on the road. So I did, and the song took off with wings. It started getting picked up by syndicated programs and was played on 300 or 400 radio stations at a time.

"It reached No. 1 on the inspirational and Christian charts and I found myself competing with folks like Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Diamond Rio. I never would have dreamed that an independent artist would knock those guys out of the No. 1 spot."

While "Jesus Runs With a Rough Crowd" doesn't necessarily play well in country bars ("You really have to listen to the lyrics," he said), Smith is willing to perform it if people want to hear it. A regular roadhouse performance by Smith will include a number of his songs, but as a performer, he's aware patrons want to hear music they're familiar with.

"I know people don't want to hear my songs all night long," said Smith, who was a high school classmate of country star Blake Shelton, with whom he remains close friends. "So we do about eight originals and then the rest of the show, for the most part, is honky tonking songs from Charlie Daniels to Blake Shelton to Lynyrd Skynyrd to the Kentucky Headhunters to Kenny Chesney. We've got something for everybody. If I've learned anything during the past 10 years, I've learned what people want to hear." - Rockdale Citizen- Covington, GA

"Blake Shelton w/ Damon Smith - 8 Seconds Saloon. Indianapolis, Indiana"

Concert Review: Added: 02/26/04
Blake Shelton w/ Damon Smith - 8 Seconds Saloon � Indianapolis, Indiana
By. Vonna R. Harrison - AngryCountry.com Staff Writer
Arriving at 8 Seconds Saloon located on the westside of Indianapolis � my sister and I took our seats front stage center. The celebrations were getting underway for local WFMS disc jockey and 1998 CMA Personality of the Year, Indy�s own J.D. Cannon, who is celebrating his 25th year. (J.D. is also a member of the prestigious Country Radio Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.) I chatted with Steve Stuart, who is the WFMS Friends and Neighbors/Promotions disc jockey, before he took the stage to announce the arrival of Damon Smith, a high school friend of Blake Shelton, and his band the Beautiful Mistakes to the stage.

Well ladies, with an electric smile and a personality to match Damon hit the stage rockin� with John Mellencamp�s tune �Lonely �Ol Night� before launching into �Walk Softly�. He gifted us with more Hoosier flavor singing Mellencamp�s, Cherry Bomb and Pink Houses. In Indiana listening to a Mellencamp tune is kin to finding a never-ending food source. We never get tired of hearing the �Cougar� tunes and Damon definitely stamped each song with his own personal style.

Utilizing the entire stage singing and moving to the music, you can�t help but note Damon loves performing. Driving on, he whipped the crowd into a frenzy with Brooks and Dunn�s �Hard Workin� Man� and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band�s �Fishin�. It is apparent that not only Mellencamp is a huge influence on Damon�s music but Tom Petty as well. Singing Petty�s �Mary Jane� and �Breakdown�, Damon again showed his musical versatility and had the audience singing and clapping along.

Damon sang three songs of his own, �Here She Comes�, �The Fool in Me�, and �The Way She Loves Me Now� which were all well received by the crowd. A woman sitting at our table remarked that she loved the song �The Fool in Me� and rushed over to buy a copy of his CD from the merchandise booth.

What do you say about a man who has the power to render me speechless? Well, if you knew me as my family and friends do, this is not a frequent occurrence. With his rendition of Led Zeppelin�s �Ramble On�, Damon proceeded to do just that. From the first note, I had chills and they lasted to the end of the song. Although this is not a country tune � this was a perfect fit for Damon�s vocals and his rendition of the song was incredible. All in the audience were in complete agreement that this was one of the best moments of Damon�s performance.

With his musical style and influences well pronounced, Damon stands apart as an individual on his way with such grand enthusiasm for the music and graciousness to his fans, he is destined to rise to the top of the charts by the sheer volume of his drive and determination. I am looking forward to hearing more country tunes from this Ada, Oklahoma native as he continues his journey in country music.

During the intermission and change of set, I walked over to Damon�s booth to get a few pictures and tell him gave a great performance. It was glaringly apparent he was well received in Indiana as the line was long and full of people, okay a LOT of women, waiting for the chance to meet Damon and get an autograph or two. He greeted each person with his contagious smile and winning personality. He added a new �Nomad� to his fan base in the form of my sister Renee�, who especially enjoyed his performance and was thrilled to meet him.

As Steve Stuart announced the arrival of Blake Shelton to the stage, the crowd went wild as he started his show with �Heavy Liftin� � followed by �Everytime I Look At You�, an awesome tune I could listen to over and over again. Blake looked out at the audience and said, �There sure are a lot of people in this bar drinkin� on a Wednesday night, it must be for the J.D. Cannon Bash.� The crowd hooted and hollered in total agreement.

Blake said, �To all the beautiful ladies that came out tonight, this one is for you.� Then we were blessed with his song �She Doesn�t Know�. Sharing with us, Blake acknowledged that Earl Thomas Conley is one of his favorites and they sat down and wrote a song together called �All Over Me�. This song was one of many highlights of the night for me, and pure perfection, with the line �Now to prove that I love her I crawl on my knees, for the whole world to see, Now that she�s all over me�.

A crowd favorite �Redneck Girl� was a definite match for this club as it seemed to be full of a bunch of women proclaiming to be just that. They especially loved it when he substituted �Redneck� with �Indiana�.

As Blake looked out at the crowd, he stated �There are a bunch of freakin� rednecks here with cowboy boots, hats and Wranglers in the Indiana woods and proceeded to sing �My Neck of the Woods�.

The crowd never settled down, except when Blake paused to say something. He stated that he wanted to do a lot of old songs for J.D. Cannon�s 25th Anniversary and began a medley starting with Eddie Rabbit�s �I Love a Rainy Night�, then on to �Black Sheep of the Family�, Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Lovin� � and �Crush On You�. I have to say, Blake could sing any song in this world and I would go to heaven a very happy woman.

How do I explain the way we were literally blown away by Blake�s next song? Well, he did just that by singing �When Somebody Knows You That Well�, with the line �You play it cool, but it�s no use, she ain�t no fool and that�s the truth�. All acoustic and all Blake, this song is destined to become a �Blaketacular� radio hit in the next few months. Blake advised this was his new single and officially goes for adds on radio playlists March 15th and will be on his forthcoming album, Summer 2004.

Blake dedicated his next song, Merle Haggard�s �Misery and Gin� to J.D. Cannon. He then introduced us to his band and told us he had been tired of hearing the same old thing on the radio so he wrote his next song, �I May be Country, but I�m not Dumb�. He asked for audience participation and asked us to yell out �Hell Yes� at his cue during the song. If you have ever been to Indiana, you know Hoosiers love the �participation thing� especially when it involves yelling out loud.

Slowing it down and to the extreme delight of all his fans, Blake began singing �Austin�. When he finished, he leaned his face against the mike and said, �This is how y�all must be feeling after all the ballads�, truly a Blake moment for me. He then launched into �Brown-eyed Girl� and as the crowd came to their feet he got them all rowdy once again with �Playboys of the Southwestern World�. Everyone was dancing and singing along with Blake throughout each and every song. Taking it back a few years, Blake sang �Slow Hand�, a personal favorite of mine. And �The Baby� left few dry eyes in the house including mine as this song holds special meaning to many. This is by far one of the best ballads Blake sings. The emotion he delivers through this song is so powerful it rocks you to the core.

Between songs, a young woman had squeezed her way up to the front of the stage to place a handwritten note that stated simply �Some Beach�. Blake asked her where she had heard that tune and she yelled that she had a brother-in-law that Blake knew. So before singing this request, Blake said, �Listen closely to the words, once we get past the (young woman�s) screams. This was a fun, upbeat song that shows Blake�s sense of humor. Everyone loved it, and you could tell everyone was listening intently to the words as he completed each line, they went a little crazy, including a certain young woman.

Blake then told us there are country songs about mamas, trains, and trucks, so why not one of two dogs stuck together before singing the tune �Ol Red�. He gave his hat to a woman in the front row before beginning a medley of songs. Beginning with Conway Twitty�s �Tight Fittin� Jeans�, he sang �Dixie on My Mind�, �Hound Dog�, �Penny, Penny� and �Whole Lotta Shakin� all the while running up and down the stage shaking hands and signing autographs for every person he could reach.

I have had the pleasure of seeing Blake open for Toby Keith at a large, outdoor venue with a very short set, and now at a small venue with a more intimate setting. I absolutely preferred this show, which not only gave everyone the opportunity to experience Blake up close and personal, but the chance to be enlightened by his sense of humor as well as his striking presence. (I had a few people ask me if his eyes are really that blue up close, and is that his real hair - sort of a Memorex moment for me.) This was an absolute, without a doubt, spectacular performance from Blake and I hope more people tune in and turn it up when they hear his phenomenal voice emanating over the radio waves. I am looking forward to the release of Blake�s new album as he belongs on the top of the charts and deep in the hearts of those who follow him on his unbelievable journey.

Author�s Note: I would like to thank Susan at Damon�s merchandise booth and Damon Smith for taking the time to speak with me after the show. It was great to meet you both! I would like to say thanks to Jim Meyers, Production Manager for 8 Seconds Saloon for his assistance and a special thanks to WFMS, Steve Stuart and J.D. Cannon for everything they do for our country stars! Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary J.D Cannon!

I also finally had the opportunity to meet Larry Large, Merchandise Manager (and husband to Carol - Fan Club Prez) for Blake Shelton. It was great to meet and tease the guy who dubbed me "Verrona" this past Christmas!

- AngryCountry.com


Tracks are on both website and MySpace links.

Broken In
Southern Fried
The Rough Crowd
My Redneck Girl
You're Still Here
Where The Wild Things Are
The Hardest Thing To Do
But I Do Now



Damon grew up in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma working in the family owned business: a funeral parlor. This unique upbringing instilled in him a steadfast work ethic, taught him to respect others, revealed the value of life and, consequently, exposed him to country music. “On many occasions when I was a young boy, I'd go with my father to pick up the deceased,” recalls Damon. “He would do his work and I would listen to country music. I vividly remember hearing him singing ‘The Auctioneer’ by Leroy Van Dyke as he worked.”

Consistent with the values of teamwork and dedication that he was taught, Damon pursued the sport of wrestling. Years of commitment and hard work paid off when Damon earned a wrestling scholarship to Oklahoma State University where he became a member of the 1994 NCAA National Championship Team. As an OSU sophomore, Damon received his first guitar for Christmas. “I took it with me to college, taught myself a few chords and then taught myself to sing.” Damon eventually became a performing member on the Oklahoma Opry and formed a band that entertained throughout the Texhoma region. Upon graduation, with his guitar and a marketing degree in hand, Damon moved to Music City to pursue his musical dreams.

”I realized I wasn’t ready to compete when I first moved to Nashville. I was green and I knew I had to grow as a performer,” he said. “I also knew people would only take me seriously as an artist if I was persistent enough to show them I wasn’t joking around.” So Damon dedicated years to playing the national circuit of honky tonks and building a loyal fan base. He graduated from doing small gigs on the local scene to impressing fans internationally while headlining a ten city tour in Brazil, selling out venues with a capacity of up to 10,000 people. Damon continuously appears at the CMA Country Music Festival. In 2008, he completed his seventh and most successful year at the famed festival, greeting fans who stood in line in excess of two hours to meet this young sensation.

Damon has further honed his craft by writing with Nashville songwriters and recording new music any time his schedule allows. Damon’s true passion for the genre is evident in his music. He released his first independent recording (Jesus Runs with a Rough Crowd) in January 2006 under his own imprint, Nomad Records. Originally recorded as a country ballad, the single took on a life of its own and crossed over to the Christian Country and Inspirational/Positive genres. Knocking out prominent acts competing for the top spot (Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Rodney Atkins), the single became a #1 hit on the Power Source Top 20 and Christian Music Weekly charts, receiving airplay on more than 900 radio stations including Armed Services Radio.

Today, Damon continues to follow his passions. You can catch him headlining at notable country bars and roadhouses, as well as performing at fairs and festivals across the country. You might even catch him in action coaching the Father Ryan High School wrestling team in Nashville, as he has done for the past two years.

Damon credits his success to date to being dedicated, persistent and knowing how to lead a team; skills he obtained working in a close-knit family business and competing at the collegiate level as a member of the wrestling team. Asked if he is satisfied with all of his accomplishments to date, Damon smiles and replies “No way. You haven’t seen anything yet!” And based on his track record, anyone who meets Damon Smith will wholeheartedly believe that statement.