Stephan Smith
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Stephan Smith


Band Folk Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


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Now's The Time, Rounder Records
The Bell, Universal Hobo/Synchronic
New World Worder, Universal Hobo/Synchronic
Slash and Burn, Artemis/Universal Hobo


Feeling a bit camera shy


Billboard Magazine has called Stephan Smith "the closest thing to this generation?s Woody Guthrie." An Eagle Scout turned traveling troubadour, Stephan is at both a multi-talented musican/songwriter and a dedicated political activist. His antiwar song "The Bell," recorded with Dean Ween and folk legend Pete Seeger was called the "antiwar anthem for this generation" by the Guerilla News Network. "The Bell" was the most widely played song against the war in Iraq on American radio, added to the playlists of more than 100 public and college stations. Since early 2003, Smith has performed over150 shows organized through the peace and global justice movements from coast to coast, and has emerged as a spokesperson for the growing international movement for human rights.

Smith's new album, SLASH AND BURN, features 12 new topical songs that are as innovative musically as they are lyrically, with styles ranging from rap to rock to country to folk. SLASH AND BURN is his first full length record performed with a band, recorded with well known hip-hop and rock drummer Mackie (Everlast, Fun Lovin Criminals, Cromags) and bass prodigy Jean Marie "Leon" Brichard (The Roots, OK Player).

Stephan grew up in rural Pennsylvania and Richmond, Va, son of an Austrian mother and an Iraqi father. He was born with the last name of Said. "That was my birth father's name, but I didn't use it growing up. I was raised by a Jesuit Priest named Gutowski, and later chose my mother's name, Smith, as my performing name." As a child he excelled at classical violin and piano, and in high school studied jazz violin with Ellis Marsalis before dropping out to tour with a punk band, Almost August, signed to SST records. He then left the country to travel as a migrant farm worker in Europe. After two years, he returned to the U.S. to work as a farm hand in the deep south, while learning old time folk and country tunes from aging masters on their front porches. Before he had ever heard Guthrie, Stephan knew hundreds of back-country songs in nine different languages, and had become a master fiddler, banjo picker, and guitarist.

He was drawn to New York through a chance meeting with poet Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa institute in Boulder, Colorado, where Stephan had been invited to perform at a tribute to folk musicologist Harry Smith (no relation). Ginsberg became an ardent supporter of Stephan and invited him to tour to support Ginsberg's CD box set "Holy Soul, Jelly Roll" (Rhino, 1994). In New York, Stephan performed with a wide range of singers and musicians -- from folk to rock to avant-jazz -- and was associated with contemporaries Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright. At the same time, he became involved with local community activists and became a fixture at fundraisers and demonstrations.

He wrote topical songs and poetry that became local and national anthems to the activist community, drawing the attention of folk legend Pete Seeger and the national press. Many of these songs, such as the "Ballad of Abner Louima? (with background vocals by Patti Smith) are played frequently on public and college radio. He participated in the WTO protests in Seattle and then performed at mass protests in Washington, D.C., against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. His 1999 debut album, NOW?S THE TIME (Rounder) was critically acclaimed. Subsequently, Stephan toured with Dave Matthews, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Ani DiFranco. Other musicians he has performed or recorded with include: Ween, Mr. Lif, Victoria Williams, Steve Earle, John Zorn, Mark Ribot, and folk legend Michael Hurley.

Smith released his anti-war anthem "The Bell" as a free MP3 over the Internet on the first anniversary of 9/11. Interest in the song led to the release of "The Bell" EP on Smith's own Universal Hobo label in the winter of 2003, which included a remix of "The Bell" by DJ Spooky and an Americana version of the song by Donna The Buffalo's Tara Nevins. The summer of 2003 saw the release of the full-length NEW WORLD WORDER, also on Universal Hobo; the album cracked the top five new releases on CMJ's AAA chart.

Quotes about Stephan Smith
"... Stephan Smith's radio-friendly protest ballad, "The Bell" ... addresses U.S. policy towards Iraq through allegory, with a child figure who stands firm, rejecting the successive war cries of a "man at his desk," until the song finally culminates with the boy's assertion that a bell they hear is calling the bureaucrat to hell. With his rough-hewn good looks and mythic songwriting, Smith is the closest thing to this generation's Woody Guthrie." (3/12/03)

"['The Bell is] one of the first major songs to directly address the nation's stance toward Iraq."
Neil Strauss, The New York Times (9/12/02)

"The clearest voice of the protest movement rising up out of Seattle."
Debra Desalvo, Jam TV/ Rolling Stone Network

" A ringleader of the American activist community, he is one of the few American si