Mich Smithers
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Mich Smithers

Pembroke, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Pembroke, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Country Singer/Songwriter

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"Mich Smithers #1"

When Pembroke's Mich Smithers was crowned the winner of Ottawa Valley's Got Talent Thursday night, nobody in the crowd was surprised, but him.

Despite closing out the show with three original songs, playing the guitar and drums during his set, he was convinced one of the other competitors had won the local talent show held at the Pembroke Marina to open the city's annual Waterfront Festival.

"I'm pretty excited," he said just minutes after learning he'd won the $1,000 first place prize as well as the chance to perform during the festival Saturday night, taking the stage at 5:45 p.m. between the Ghost Town Cryers and Eddie and the Stingrays.

Although he's been singing for about 20 years, Mr. Smithers hasn't typically done competitions but he decided to enter Ottawa Valley's Got Talent at the urging of his wife and manager and he is happy he listened to them. He already has plans for his $1,000 prize, which he will put towards the final preparations of his first album, which he expects to release in the coming months.

"This is going to come in really handy," he said clutching the envelope.

After his first two songs, he put down his guitar and told the crowd he had to get something. Moving to the back of the stage, he grabbed a pair of drumsticks, began hammering out a beat to get the crowd into the song before returning to the front of the stage where he picked up his guitar and played his final selection of the night. He would like to think his multi-instrument performance helped to tip the judges in his favour.

All of the songs on his 10-track album are originals. He classifies his sound right on the edge between country and rock.

He takes his influence from new country bands that play on the heavier side of typical country.

He was recently awarded for his writing abilities as well as he won the songwriting contest at last weekend's Deep River Summerfest, where he also performed.

Although he was pleased with his showing, he was focused on last night's competition and it paid off as he played in front of one of the biggest crowds of his career, as a few thousand people were on hand, enjoying the show from the comfort of their lawn chairs.

He is looking forward to Saturday's performance and adding the Waterfront Festival to his resume.

Thursday's Ottawa Valley's Got Talent finale was a culmination of five weeks of performances at the Riverwalk Amphitheatre, but this time the performers had the chance to hit the big stage.

Each week, four acts performed for the judges who selected a winner each week to move onto the finals, which were judged by local musicians Nicolette Legace and Carol Kennedy Zadorozny and radio personalities Scott George, Matt McIntyre and Travis D'Aoust.

Also taking the big stage were Pocket Full of Firecrackers, voted into the finals in the wildcard position, as well as weekly winners Paige Leach, Melissa McLaughlin, Take Off and Lindsay Frechette.

Taking home second and third spots were three-piece band Take Off and 11-year-old Lindsay Frechette of Pakenham, winning prizes of $300 and $200 respectively.

Organizing and hosting the evening were Toni Sparkle and Michael Parent, who were both pleased with the number of entrants, although next year they would like to see more of a variety in acts.

Both agree all of the acts have been well received and the crowds have been great, making each week a lot of fun.

"The Ottawa Valley is full of musicians, performers and entertainers that don't always have a place to show off, so this is a good venue," Mr. Parent said.

He added that playing on Saturday night of the festival is a big break for Mr. Smithers, especially as he prepares to release his first album.

Susan Ellis, the city's manager of economic development, recreation and tourism, sees Ottawa Valley's Got Talent as a way of preserving and promoting the unique musical legacy and cultural heritage.

"This competition is an investment in our youth and a way of ensuring the Ottawa Valley is a great place to come for great music and dance."

The Waterfront Festival continues until Saturday. Taking the stage tonight are By Chance, Ambush, The Wilkinsons and Aaron Pritchett and performing Saturday are Aviation, Common Luxury, Sidewinder, Ghost Town Cryers, Eddie and the Stingrays, the Lincolns and Trooper. - The Daily Observer


"Mich Smithers feels comfortable with his third instrument"

When Mich Smithers releases his new CD at the Knights of Columbus hall tonight, it'll complete a jour-n ey that began when he started playing a Music Loft piano at age five.

The Pembroke-born songwr iter didn't stick to the piano for very long and graduated to drums, which got him a lot of work with student bands at Bishop Smith and Champlain high schools.

After mastering the drums, his father bought him a guitar and it was then that he discovered his true talent. With that instrument, came more creativity.

"You can write songs on a guitar," says Mr. Smithers, whose debut CD "Sail Away" will be released tonight after four years in the studio. "It is a simpler approach."

His love of music has made him a student of all genres. This versatility has allowed him to perform with such bands as Crystal Creek, The Public Address Band, Ghost Town Cryers, Tequilla Mockingbird, Foundation, De-Mos and Tangent.

For most of his 17-year professional career he has written for others. However, the debut of "Sail Away," featuring all tracks but one written by himself, is a special moment that Mr. Smithers will savour. His songs deal with conflict, love, tragedy, hope and acceptance.

"There was a point where all I was doing was writing songs," says Mr. Smithers. "A lot of it was written when I was going through some tough times. A lot of it was for reflection. When I was done, I was in a better place. So when it came to recording, it was easy because I had heard the songs so many times in my head."

He demonstrated his remarkable songwriting talent this past summer by first winning the Deep River Summerfest Songwriting Competition, and then the Ottawa Valley's Got Talent competition. As the winner of the latter contest, he opened for Canadian rock legends Trooper at the Pembroke Waterfront Festival in August.

The CD was co-produced by Brian Hebert and Jordan Zadorozny and was recorded at Westworld and French Kiss studios. Mr. Smithers said this is a unique time for local talent to break out and achieve success. He credits Canadian country music recording artist Jason Blaine, who got his start in Pem-broke.

"Jason Blaine kind of proved the point that you can come from a small town and get noticed," he explains. "It's different now. There's talent agencies opening up and there's a lot of talent around here."

The musical tastes of the area have changed as well, he adds.

"Everyone knew the Ottawa Valley was country. Now people can go to a bar and listen to a southern rock band," Mr. Smithers notes.

The CD release party for Mich Smithers will feature Randy Briand and Luc Carrier of Nothing Sacred. It will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 170 Ellis St. in Pembroke. Tickets are available at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are also available in advance at Bob's Music, CD Plus and McGarry Sound and Light.

Mich Smithers will be appearing at the Thanksgiving Jam on Oct. 16 and Taste of the Valley, also on Oct. 16.

The CD "Sail Away" is now available at CD Plus in the Pembroke Mall. - The Daily Observer


Discography

Sail Away 2010

Photos

Bio

For those who are not familiar with Mich and his music, his story is one to tell. His musical prose developed at an early age of five when he started to play the keyboard. Mich’s uncanny musical talent continued in high school where he learned to master the drums. His love of music made him a student of all genres. By the time he was 20, he was already playing the guitar. Mich’s musical credits include playing with such bands as Crystal Creek, The Public Address Band, Tequilla Mockingbird, Foundation, Jakksht, The Ghost Town Cryers, De-Mos, and Tangent.

"Mich Smithers' debut solo album, Sail Away, will bring you on a journey of a lifetime. Mich is, without a doubt, one of the best-kept secrets of the Ottawa Valley, if not the new country music world. Mich won back-to-back competitions this year, starting with the Deep River Summerfest Songwriting Competition which landed him up on the big stage, and just 5 days later the Ottawa Valley’s Got Talent competition where he had the packed crowd wanting for more... and as winner, performed at this year’s Pembroke Waterfront Festival as an opening act for Canadian rock superstars, Trooper."