Electric Healing
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Electric Healing

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Tom Smith doesn’t hesitate when asked about a particular moment in his life that altered the way he thought about music.

Sept. 2, 1978: The Grateful Dead at Giants Stadium. A gangly teenager, Smith took a Port Authority bus from New York, nervous and alone, across the river and trekked into the venue with thousands of “these super-duper hippies,” he told The Daily Times this week. “It wasn’t long after the music started that I really felt at home,” he said. “There was something about that situation that had a whole lot more to do than just music; music was not even the biggest part. I wouldn’t say I’ve been trying to reproduce that ever since, because I’ve had experiences since then that helped solidify that, but I’ve always felt a kind of a healing vibe when I’ve played music, and I’ve noticed its effects on people as a player.”

As half of the duo known as Electric Healing, which performs at Brackins Blues Club in downtown Maryville on Saturday night, Smith and his bass-playing wife, Susan, set out to recreate that healing vibe every time they plug in. They base what they do in old-school rock ‘n’ roll and blues, but Smith’s nuanced picking might result in a bluegrass run, a surf-punk guitar solo or a rockabilly lick getting tossed into the mix at any given time.

It’s all part and parcel of Electric Healing’s desire to lighten the load of its listeners, Smith said.

“I remember I went to a party one time, and I decided to bring along a guitar and an amp, which are pretty much permanently attached to me anyway,” he said. “There was this guy there, and he looked like a biker, but his arms were crossed and he just looked angry. Well, he brought a bass, and we started jamming, and it wasn’t too long that not only did the guy lighten up, but his whole disposition changed.

“I will admit, with malice aforethought, that I wanted to crack this guy’s case and get him to smile, and before I knew it, he was giving me giant hugs and turned into this little flower child all of the sudden, and clearly, getting into the music is what did it. Music is a carrier wave, and the healing intent rides on it.”

A long-time rambling man, Smith eventually landed in East Tennessee with his wife and son a few years ago; at one of the first open-mic jams at Relix Variety Theatre in Downtown North Knoxville, a couple of young girls jumped on stage with him, their mother standing off to the side and smiling.

“Susan was their mom, and her two girls and my son became friends; my wife left the state with my son, and after the ensuing divorce, Susan and I made it official,” he said.

He taught her how to play the bass, and Electric Healing began gigging unobtrusively at places like the old House Tavern on Chapman Highway and Toot’s Little Honky Tonk in Downtown North. They worked up eight or so originals and a healthy setlist of cover tunes — although some, Smith said, are so rearranged that they might be unrecognizable.

“I like to take extreme liberties — not because I’m such a creative genius, but because I can’t sing like my favorite artist,” he said with a laugh. “If there’s a song I’ve got to play, but I can’t do it the way it’s known and loved, I’ll find a way to do it. For example, I just cannot play a Beatles songs straight, no way. I don’t have the vocal chops, and the instrumentation isn’t there. I really like to work on arrangements like that.

“That’s where the healing comes in for me, where I will get into what the rhythm section is doing and just leave this place and go out there and just play what hits me instead of thinking what the next note’s going to be, I’m listening like everyone else. To me, that’s high adventure. That’s great fun, and I’ve found it gets people’s attention.” - The Daily Times (Maryville, TN)


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

This guitar-centric jam band arose from many successive weeks of Friday night jams at the "Stone Manor," home of Susan and Tom Smith.

The name Electric Healing is the result of a long-time desire to affect healing through music. Tom recalls that after having hustled gigs for decades, moments in which the music acted on the listeners (or the players) in a positive healing way were what stood out the most in retrospect.
The project is founded on having a healing intent first, putting the music out there, and worrying less about the "rat race" aspects that the music business can sometimes present.

Susan is an old-school East Tennessean, while Tom arrived in Knoxville via Johnson City TN, via Asheville NC, via Los Angeles, via Cincinnati, via Memphis, via Las Vegas, via Brooklyn NY. He thus far has neutralized all relocation threats. All "Healers" currently reside in Seymour, Tennessee.

Far from rote and formulaic, no two performances of a given song are quite the same with this group. Variation is what keeps the energy at a remarkable high. Rather than the soloist improvising during a solo on top of a tried-and-true arrangement, one can find the whole band improvising a way-out take on one of their original numbers or taking a cover tune to unexpected places it has
never been. Tom uses what could be called a guitar vocabulary to hit a musical space that matches what is going on in the rhythm section. What sounds like a reggae drum beat over a bluegrass bass line might just elicit a surf punk guitar treatment. This time. Next time? Country licks or rock-a-billy bustle. The band plays to the space they are in.

Electric Healing is setting their sights on a larger sphere of influence, more media channels and more exposure to folks who like their healing Organic, Face-Melty and Ever-Changing.