Josh Smith
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Josh Smith


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"Fullness, Complexity, and Rising Wisdom"

Back in the olden days of the Blues, the 1990s, there was no shortage of Blues wunderkinds. Seemed like every night some news broadcaster was open-mouthed gasping at the 16-year-old guitar kid playing the Blues. "How does a kid so young learn to play the Blues?" They'd ask. Tales of sitting with dad's old records and learning the music of Muddy, Jimi, and Stevie were retold and record deals were signed.
Today, looking back, the Blues for most was merely their entrée into the world of tour buses, as most of those whiz kids have moved onto the Rock stage. The few who have remained dedicated to the Blues, play, sing, and write music with the honest grit and substance encouraged by their deep love of the Blues.

Josh Smith is one of those who has survived the early crush of the press and has emerged today as a matured musician steeped in the Blues. I first wrote about Josh Smith when the then-16-year-old from the Ft. Lauderdale area released his first record. Touring bands like Jimmy Thackery, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, and others took note of the kid's enormous chops. Early on I heard his lightning fretwork and blaring volume mature into the spirited dynamics necessary to become more then just a hot roddin' teen.

In 2002, I heard from his father that Josh was married, was living in the Los Angeles area, was touring with a Soul and R&B band, and on his off nights was playin' the Blues with people like Kirk Fletcher, Lynwood Slim, and others from the West Coast scene. Now, in 2006, I find an envelope with Josh's current disc and hear how his guitar and voice have elegantly aged.

Smith's twelve original songs touch every area of the Blues. From the opening tune, the Chicago Blues shufflin' "Fine Young Thing," I was excited to hear everything Josh was singin' about. The classy combo of Smith's guitar, Lynwood Slim's harmonica, and Fred Kaplan's piano makes this a song that just might wear out the repeat button. But, if you only listen to this appetizer you're gonna miss the rest of Smith's gourmet meal of music.

Want another course of the Blues? Give a listen to Smith's Magic Sam-inspired "Sober Up Baby." With its pounding drum line at the foundation, Josh bends strings with some of the most inspired traditional Blues west of the Windy City. On "Where's My Baby" Smith updates his devotion to SRV with an earthy Texas guitar and organ rumble. Played at cruising, not rocket speed, the song showcases how Smith's love of SRV has become a deep inspiration. And Smith and Kaplan combine on "Goin' Out Tonight," another thoroughly satisfying traditional Blues piece.

But, there is so much more than just the Blues guitar. Remember I said that Smith had spent time in a Los Angeles in a Soul band? Those years are evident in his big time Soul approach to tunes like "Only You," "You And Me," and "Already Found." While Josh displays the perfect guitar for Soul music, the addition of James Gadson's seasoned drums and Lou Price's Soul tenor sax center these tunes in the Stax studios.

Smith grew up in the trio setting on his 1990s records, so "I'm Gonna Be Ready" and "Ain't Enough" are songs that recall those early days of flyin' solo on the bandstand. His slow Blues "The Way You Do" grinds out five minutes big city, B.B. King heartbreak. On "Newtie" Josh calls in his best friend, Los Angeles' premier guitar slinger, Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Kirk Fletcher to comp rhythm chords. The final tune, "Dead Wrong," is a funky Albert Collins-styled tune featuring Smith, like Albert, firing off single-string salvo after salvo through the heart of the listener.

I can't help but think of the maturity we hear in the adult Blues of people like Albert Cummings or Deborah Coleman who came to the Blues as seasoned adults. Now, almost ten years later, Josh Smith is in the place one can only reach through living life. He also demonstrates a fullness to the singing, a complexity to the emotional string work, and an adult wisdom in the songwriting. His Blues roots run too deep for Josh to ever ignore. This may be one of the best records you'll find this year.

Art Tipaldi is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax -

"Idol Worship"

Guitarist Josh Smith isn't a celebrity in his native Pembroke Pines, but the longer he keeps playing in Taylor Hicks' band, the more it's inevitable that he'll reach stardom. The 27-year-old, down-to-Earth guitarist is on the road with last year's "American Idol" winner. This weekend they'll be in town for a show in Pompano Beach, where Smith could get more cheers than Hicks when they take the stage. It's a relatively new gig for Smith, who's only been touring with Hicks for the past six months. When he's not backing up the former American Idol, Smith plays the blues, and has a new CD, Deep Roots, to prove it. We caught up with Smith recently between tour stops to see how he's been doing.

Outtakes: Now that you're on the road with Taylor, do you still have time to play your own music?

Smith: Not so much. I cut a new record right before I got this gig and I haven't really been able to do much with it. Not that I'm looking to sell a million records, 'cause it's never gonna happen, but I'd like to do something more with the thing cause I'm proud of it.

What's it like to work with Taylor every night?

The cool thing about Taylor is that even though he won "American Idol," which is the opposite of what he is, he grew up playing blues joints and dives in Alabama. He understands what it takes to pay his dues. I didn't watch "American Idol," so I didn't know much coming in. But he's a really cool singer and harp player, and is just a normal dude.

What's the biggest difference between the music scene in Los Angeles and South Florida?

It's not that guys aren't serious in South Florida, but people go to L.A. specifically to make it in rock. You can make it in South Florida, but not really. You really need to be in L.A. So out there, there's a lot more competition, but a lot of people that flat-out stink.

As an artist, do you ever find that the music you want to make and the music you're currently playing with Taylor Hicks are different?

Yeah, but it doesn't bother me. Anytime I can make a living playing guitar, I'm happy. It also makes you a better musician!
- New Times

"Josh Smith: Late Night at the Poorhouse"

Josh Smith
The Poorhouse
August 25, 2007

Better than:Watching Taylor Hicks perform in Boca Raton with a bunch of horny grandmothers

The Review: Guitarist Josh Smith played two shows on Saturday and was running on fumes by the time I caught up with him at the Poorhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The Pembroke Pines native and lead guitarist in the Taylor Hicks band played with Taylor at Mizner Park in Boca... let's call that the money show. I didn't see it, won't write about it, but thankfully, Smith and some pals found the energy to hit the Poorhouse later on and played a raucous set of blues, rock, and jazz that was incredible. Let's call that the real show.
It was evident during his set, which didn't get going until around 2am that Josh and his pals on stage were all superior musicians. They transitioned from blues to jazz to rock tunes in one fluid motion and the crowd loved it. Smith was playing with a variation of his old band, but also had a saxophone player from Taylor's band that wanted to get an extra session in and the crowd was glad that he did.
I didn't get the set list, but at one point, the band played a killer version of John Coltrane's Footprints and drummer, John Yarling had a solo for the ages. By 3:30am, Smith was whipped and looked like he needed some sleep, but the audience was glad he held out as long as he did. --Jonathan Cunningham
- New Times

"Determination....An Interview with Josh Smith"

We had an opportunity to ask Josh Smith some questions this week. In the process, we learned just how determined this 27 year old guitarist is. He is a native of South Florida, who moved to L.A. to further his career. Josh just completed a seven month tour with Taylor Hicks and the Soul Patrol was mesmerized with his versatile guitar playing. His first CD release in seven years, "Deep Roots" is a fantastic collection of traditional blues tunes.

How did you get the gig with Taylor Hicks?
Loren called me for an audition and the rest is history.

Who else have you toured with? How did that compare with Taylor?
I toured internationally and nationally with Virgin recording artist Ricky Fante for over 2 years along w/many national tours of my own music. It is all pretty much the same but this tour has had the best fans. I have done studio work and gigs around L.A. with a number of people as well. Most of that is Pop and Hip-Hop.

Any funny bus stories you care to share with the Soul Patrol?
Nope. We usually slept.

The tattoos on your arm are quite intricate. Is there a story there about the meaning behind the tattoo?
I actually have many tattoos on both arms. Most are music related with the exception of a flaming heart on my wrist (matching one my wife has on her wrist), a 335 Gibson on my arm in honor of my son Riley B and also his namesake BB king, a Marshall style amp on my arm with my daughter's name (Mackenzie) instead of Marshall. The largest tattoo is a dragon with a Samurai. This one is still not finished.

How long have you been in music?
I started playing guitar when I was 3 and lessons when I was 6. I began playing in clubs/bars when I was 13. I had 4 CDs of my own music out by the time I was 20 but the blues genre is a hard one. I moved to L.A. 5 years ago when I was 22 in the hopes of being a sideman and doing studio work. I had my first touring gig one year later. I have been lucky and have played with many people over the years from BB King to Chris Layton & Tommy Shannon from Double Trouble, Jimmy Thackery. I have been friends with Keb'Mo for about 15 years. He is the one who actually encouraged me to move out to California.

Who is your inspiration?
BB King, Freddie King, Albert King, Sam Cooke, Stevie Ray, Bruce Springsteen, Danny Gatton and many more.

Do you play any other instruments?
I can play just about anything but guitar was always what I was meant to play.

What do you do to prepare for a show and then unwind after a show?
Nothing much for either. I am usually the most boring ,as I don't drink so I usually end up back at my hotel trying to get in a video chat with my family.

Tell us about your CD.
I always wanted to make a traditional blues & roots CD. I am really proud of it. It gave me the chance to work with some really great musicians here in Los Angeles. It has been well received.

Taylor's Angels wishes to thank Josh Smith for spending some time with us and we wish him the best in his future endeavors!
- Taylor's HQ


Born Under A Blue Sign - 1994
Woodsheddin' - 1995
Too Damn Cold - 1997 (produced by Jim Gaines)
Woman - 2000 (produced by Jim Gaines)
Deep Roots



Josh Smith was born October 7, 1979 in Middletown, Connecticut. Before he was 1, his family relocated to Florida, eventually settling in Pembroke Pines, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. At age 3, he received his first guitar and at 6, he started taking guitar lessons.

Josh had exposure to the blues at an early age. He listened to a variety of artists from Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King and T-Bone Walker, just to name a few. He also started going to concerts, including the Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.

By the age of 12, Josh started playing at established professional blues jams in South Florida, such as Musicians Exchange Café in Fort Lauderdale and Club M in Hollywood.
When Josh was 13, the house band at Club M, the Rhino Cats, asked him to be the lead guitarist and he accepted. Musicians Exchange owner Don Cohen was so taken aback by the talent of this young musician that he offered to help manage and develop Josh’s career.

The Café was renowned for bringing in the best national touring blues bands, and Josh was quick to learn how to approach these blues greats, many of whom would invite Josh to sit in with the band, thinking that it would be “novel”- a 14-year-old kid trying to play the blues. The novelty quickly wore off and was replaced by musicians stopping, watching and listening as this “kid” wailed out the blues licks better than many of the touring guitarists on the circuit. Josh began sitting in with such greats as Jimmy Thackery, Tinsley Ellis, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Double Trouble, Joanna Connor and Kim Simmonds, among others. Jimmy Thackery said of the 14-year-old, “Josh is three heartbreaks away from being a true blues guitar genius.” At 14, Josh released his first CD, Born Under a Blue Sign, and at 15, he released his second CD, Woodsheddin.

The Rhino Cats began performing all over South Florida as Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats and quickly became one of the most in-demand blues bands in the area. In 1994, Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats received the Florida Jammy Award for best blues band and were selected as XS Readers Choice Winners in 1995 for best blues band. In 1996, when Josh was a senior in high school, the national magazine “ High School Senior” put Josh on the cover and hailed him as an “Up and Coming Guitar Legend.” That same year, Washburn Guitars Int’l also recognized Josh’s talent and gave him an endorsement. They flew Josh to Chicago and guitar luthier Grover Jackson built him a custom guitar.

Although Josh was an honor student, after graduation from high school in June 1997, while his friends chose to go off to college, Josh followed his heart and his destiny and made the decision to pursue what he was best at - being a true musician. His first national tour ensued with his newly formed power trio format, Josh Smith and the Frost. Josh was now the band leader and the main vocalist, so he not only had to develop his guitar chops, but also had to concentrate on his vocal prowess. In September 1997, Josh enlisted world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, whose credits include Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Luther Allison, Steve Miller and Jimmy Thackery, to produce his third CD, Too Damn Cold.

By 1998, Josh had completed four national tours with his own band. In January 1998, Billboard Magazine took note of the rising young talent in a Continental Drift article. In February 1998, Josh was asked to support B.B. King on a number of theatre dates. In March 1998, the TV show Chicago Hope purchased the rights to the tune “32 degrees” from “Too Damn Cold.” An international CD release, “The Mentos Freshmaker Tour,” included the title cut, “Too Damn Cold,” in the spring of 1998.

Josh toured nationally all of 1999 and in October of that year, he entered the recording studio again with Jim Gaines and produced Woman, his fourth CD. This CD was released and well received in the spring of 2000. Josh continued to tour the East Coast from New York to Florida through 2001 with his band. In June 2002, he married and he and his wife decided to move to Los Angeles. Josh was ready for something new and he wanted to be around a variety of music. He also thought it would be good to try being a sideman.

Within a year of moving to L.A., he was retained by Virgin recording artist Ricky Fante. He played nationally and internationally with Ricky for the next two years.

In May 2006, Josh recorded his fifth CD, Deep Roots. A more traditional blues CD, his music was once again well received by Blueswax and Blues Revue magazine. Josh also continued to play with a variety of artists, such as actress Taryn Manning, Universal hip-hop artist Benny Cassette and Tara Ellis, to name a few. In January 2007, Josh was hired by 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to be his lead guitarist. They completed two national tours from February-September 2007 with monthly dates and charity events until June 2008 when Taylor s