Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps
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Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Folk Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Band Spotlight"

Caroline Smith is going places. Literally. Smith and her three piece band band The Good Night Sleeps, which consists of Colin Hacklander (Something With Kites) on keyboards, Jesse Schuster (Lucy Michelle) on bass and Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult, The Wapsipinicon) on drums, will hit the Voltage Fashion Amplified stage a week after a tour of the Midwest and the East Coast that takes them from Iowa City to Brooklyn and back again. As soon as Voltage winds up, the band will be back out on the road less than a week later to Madison, Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

Smith’s folk/pop debut Backyard Tent Set came out in 2008. Often compared to Lucy Michelle, with whom she shares bassist Jesse Schuster, for her Billie Holiday/Joanna Newsom-like vocals, Caroline Smith played First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase in 2008. On her Myspace page, Smith cities an exceedingly diverse list of influences, from Ben Gibbard, to Wilco, to Carly Simon and The Pixies. It all adds up to a listen that is always engaging, often tender and accessible whichever direction your musical taste runs.

What strikes me most about Smith is her poise. She’s a performer fully aware and fully in control while on stage. Her songs are often troubling, but matter of fact stories. Check out “Closing the Doors” as an exemplary song.

Smith released Live At The Cedar in January, and the band is currently working on a full length album due out later in 2010. -

"Twin Cities Songbird Caroline Smith Finds the Sweet Spot"

Twin Cities songbird Caroline Smith finds the sweet spot
Singer-songwriter fulfills dream of playing at First Avenue
A A A Comments (1) By Andrea Swensson Wednesday, Jul 22 2009

Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps have all the makings of a band on the verge of breaking out: Smith's folky songs are sunny, simple, and memorable without straying into saccharine; her sincere, chatty stage presence is disarming; and her backing band (Cloud Cult's Arlen Peiffer on drums and Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles' Jesse Schuster on bass) loves to tour. With an airtight album already under her belt (Backyard Tent Set, released earlier this year), a voice that sounds like a whippoorwill floating on a spring breeze, and an audience that seems to grow exponentially with every show she plays, we thought it was a good time to catch up with Smith before she rockets off into the stratosphere.
Caroline Smith (wearing a dress by Calpurnia Peach) with her Good Night Sleeps Jesse Schuster and Arlen Peiffer
Amanda Johnson
Caroline Smith (wearing a dress by Calpurnia Peach) with her Good Night Sleeps Jesse Schuster and Arlen Peiffer
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More About

* Caroline Smith
* Lucy Michelle
* Jesse Schuster
* Arlen Peiffer
* Mill City Museum

City Pages: What are your earliest memories of playing music?

Caroline Smith: My dad taught me how to play guitar when I was really young, playing Bob Dylan songs and stuff. He got me my first guitar, and then I took it over to my mom's house and started writing songs. It wasn't until I was 15 that she found out that I was playing, and she made me start playing out in restaurants. That's how I got started playing out—my mom made me. She was like the hockey mom of the arts.

City Pages: You played the First Avenue mainroom for the first time this year. What was that like?

Smith: That was really surreal. We played Best New Bands, and that was my first time being up there. On the second song, I looked out, and I totally had this flashback of me being 15 years old and playing in my bathroom mirror and pretending like I was on the main stage at First Avenue. I totally had that cheesy movie moment. It was awesome.

City Pages: It seems like a lot of people compare you to another local musician who played Best New Bands this year, Lucy Michelle. How do you feel about those comparisons?

Smith: If I'm compared to Lucy Michelle, I'm flattered, because I think she's really talented, and she's a very sweet girl. We have a lot of mutual friends, and are acquaintances ourselves. The more I listen to her music, the more I just don't feel like we're doing the same thing. Maybe our vocal influences are similar, with Billie Holiday and stuff, which is where people are apt to compare us—and we have the same bass player—but I feel like our songs are completely different. Her band is really amazing, and it's more about all of them working together, where my songs are all about the songwriting.

City Pages: Agreed. Sometimes it seems people tend to lump female singers together simply because they are female.

Smith: There are plenty of bands that come up in Minneapolis at the same time that sound an awful lot alike, and they don't ever get compared. But me and Lucy—I think it'll be like that for a while. We were thinking about doing a battle show [laughs]. I don't know, we'll see.

City Pages: Are you working on songs for a new album already? What's your songwriting process like?

Smith: I'm a really slow songwriter. I can only write a song a month, maybe, if that. And then half of those songs I don't really like. So I'm really picky, and it takes me forever. I wish I could just sit down and write a song, like my friend Andy Ulseth, he just sits down and can write a song, and I was always really jealous of that. But I have to wait for the perfect moment.

City Pages: How do you know when the moment is coming?

Smith: It's just a feeling. That's a blunt answer, but that's really what it is. Like, "I could write a really good song right now. Oh my god, I need to go home."

City Pages: Have you discovered any methods for getting back to that place where the creativity is flowing?

Smith: Yeah. There has to be something that is quaking me or something that is making me emotional. Which is why 90 percent of my songs are about boys [laughs]. - City Pages Interview

"Secret Garden Video"

Before playing their Spike Hill show in Williamsburg, Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps were to perform a few songs in the ever-so-mobile Secret Garden. Their bright-eyed bassist Jesse Schuster had wanted to play an upright bass, but when we couldn’t find a spot that housed one we could borrow, we thought a well-lit patch of a quiet-ish sidewalk, by which their van was parked close to the venue, suited us just fine. Drummer Arlen Peiffer grabbed a glockenspiel and a shaker, and the other three—Alex Ramsey-Blood, Caroline Smith and Jesse—fared well amongst a guitar, a banjo and some finger-snapping. Their sweet songs reigned on the sidewalk, turned a few heads, and evoked kind words from a passing stranger. We topped it all off with a cover of a pretty filthy song, though. All three originals heard here are from Backyard Tent Set. - Hooves On The Turf

"Daytrotter Session"

Caroline Smith has probably devoured a lot of Flannery O'Connor short stories in her time, letting the Southern gothic, Depression-era mindset get into her, to make her weary of the hardships and the people that bring them on. These people are predominantly immature men and they do insensitive, idiotic things as if they're only capable of buffoonery and crushing beer cans against the side of their heads with a grunt and a groan. She believes that a good man is as hard to find as O'Connor does and it's a weighty thing. It's as if the good ones are without their goods for the longest time, like an incubation period that has no known ending date. So they ferment and sit there, just being worthless and disgusting until the day that they're less so, when they can be taken places and shown off as usable members of society and worthy sources of companionship. They're finally stable enough to not make as many fart noises by sinking their cupped palms down the collar of their t-shirts and under their armpits. It takes a long time for that to happen, so what Smith and other mature women do is they deal with the immaturities and the fart noises, putting up with the riff raff, waiting it out until there's some sort of payout and shared adulthood. Smith and her band, the Good Night Sleeps, ring the triteness out of these man-boys by making it sound like the light, hissing sighs of a tea kettle just burbling and rocking into a boil, the steam escaping in a low howl before the freakout. She stomps and she emotes, but it's in a very collected and settling way, as if she's made amends with the prospects of having to make it through all of the duds before getting to the good ones. She sings with such a unique pinch to her voice - a come hither warble that predates her body by generations and generations -- and the music comes wonderfully like a lazy locomotive, giving it the subtlest brawn and lung power, giving her the confident horsepower that she casually exudes in bringing these doldrums and dolts to light. It's as if there's a low and full moon hanging above her words and melodies, servicing them with the electricity that they need to do the rest, to be as sharp and as bummed out as they need to be. She begins the song "Closing the Doors" - and continues it until the very end - dragging on the futility of the men that she and those others that she knows come into contact with all the time. She sings, "When the men will be boys and the girls sing the chorus again," hoping that there will be a time when everything will change and there will be a legitimate reason to find love in one of those men instead of another case of mothering. Time passes during the song and eventually there's a reckoning and a prophetic conclusion that there will be life "when the men all grow up and all the girls start to see a new day," and that's what's out there, what could be. Until then, Smith and her other staring-at-the-moon friends will just wear out the time until then even though the wait aches. - Daytrotter

"Album Review-Minneapolis"

Look out Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, you have some competition. With the release of their debut CD, Backyard Tent Set, Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps have demonstrated to be a great new emerging band in the local music scene and are proving that Lucy Michelle is not the only female led quirky folk-pop game in town. The comparisons between the two bands are all over the place, from twee pop songs to the Joanna Newsom-like vocal warble from the respective front women. Both bands use folk based instruments (banjo for Smith and ukulele for Michelle) to add a nice touch to their eclectic pop songs and both have strong debut CDs and excellent live shows.

The songs on Backyard Tent Set do not constitute a wide variety of territory, but they are good at what they are. The songs, leaning on Jenny Lewis/Feist-type of songwriting with forlorn songs about love and heartbreak from a female prospective are both sweet and endearingly melodramatic. Smith has a flair for capturing the awkward moments that seem to encompass the rough terrain of life, especially in unraveling relationships. Like their live show, the three piece Goodnight Sleeps serve as a strong anchor to supply Smith with lush backing tracks for her songs. The instruments are mainly subdued, with acoustic guitars, banjo, keyboards, harmonica, light drums and keyboards adding texture to her whimsical pop songs sung in her commanding voice. Like anything so sweet, there are moments where the songs border on being too delicate and there could be a little more variety in the songwriting, but the CD clocks in at a brisk 40 minutes and contains no weak songs, so it goes by quickly. Highlights include the upbeat yet sad song “Closing the Door” and the sweetly innocent “From Me” and “You Promised Me.” -

"Iowa Press"

Interrupting the typical evening rock scene found at the Yacht Club, Minneapolis singer-songwriter Caroline Smith mellowed the underground venue as soon as she stepped on stage. Crooning with a touch of birdlike warble, the 20-year-old serenaded the small summer crowd with her peaceful folk music. The show is just one of the many she's performed since her début as a musician in high school, and her career has included opening for such performers as B.B. King and Mason Jennings.

Since that June performance at the Yacht Club, Smith and her band, the Good Night Sleeps, have played numerous similar shows, touring from the Midwest to the East Coast on behalf of their Aug. 12 CD release, Backyard Tent Set. Now as the summer tour comes to a close, the indie-folk band members say listeners are definitely starting to feel it.

"It feels like we've been making very sincere connections with people," drummer Arlen Peiffer said.

The group will return to Iowa City on Tuesday, hoping to reach more fans at its 9 p.m. show at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. The quartet might initially catch new followers with the quality of the live show, which cohesively integrates a range of instruments that includes banjo, keys, glockenspiel, accordion, guitar, and upright bass. Then it's up to the album to keep people hooked.

While Smith has performed solo since the age of 15, a year and a half ago she joined forces with the Good Night Sleeps (a name the members coined in a Wendy's drive-through), composed of Peiffer and Alex Ramsey, both of Washington, Iowa, and Jesse Schuster of Minnesota. Together, the album they created calls to everyone's inner child, with simple melodies, lighthearted lyrics, and songs with such names as "Tying My Shoes."

"People say my lyrics are storybook-ish," Smith said. "Like a kids' book, but in an adult way - a fairy tale. All put together with wood and shambles."

Smith, an English major at the University of Minnesota, writes songs that remind people to look at life through children's eyes. The band sees the innocence of its music as a distinguishing characteristic in the current music scene.

"It's a huge part of what I strive for in life, to remain childish in some ways," Peiffer said. "There's so much music out there that doesn't really mean anything. It's just there for the wrong reasons. We want to create something that can help make people's lives better. I think the innocence and sincerity has a lot to do with that."

After all, there are few things more pure than scrambling up trees with your best friend, and sometimes it takes music such as this to remember that. - Daily Iowan

"Pittsburgh Press"

Twenty-year-old Caroline Smith lost no time getting her music career started when she matriculated at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After seeing the similarly voiced Joanna Newsom play the 400 Club, the young singer-songwriter approached the venue about playing shows, leading to a residency gig at the club. Over the past year, her act has expanded into a full band, The Good Night Sleeps, featuring Jesse Schuster, Alex Ramsey and Cloud Cult's Arlen Peiffer.

On her new record Backyard Tent Set, out now, Smith shoots for a brand of indie pop that's in the neighborhood of Feist and St. Vincent, though with looser production and less contrived dramatic effects (so far). "Lack of Height" is an atmospheric, electric piano-driven tale of a kiss falling short with not unpleasant results; others, like the secret-crush note "Closing the Doors," lean more toward acoustic-folk strumming with perky pop rhythms, which combine to good result when she hits the chorus, "When all the men will be boys / and the girls sing the chorus again."

Smith and the band have opened for a number of prominent indie acts including The White Rabbits and Dr. Dog. Pittsburgh musicians have their own chance to perform alongside Smith tonight, when she and the band are featured artists at the Shadow Lounge's open-stage night on Wed. Aug. 20.

- Pittsburgh City Paper

"New York City Press"

Everyone from Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps seemed pretty likable, and they were quick to make new fans at their first-ever performance in New York City. Of the small crowd present last night–the room was half-full–it seemed most were friends of other bands playing: Measure, Olivia Mancini and Donny Hue are all local acts. Apart from myself, there were perhaps three others who knew of Caroline prior to the show: the band’s jovial mailing list guy, that guy’s friend, and another person Caroline greeted before the show. When the music got going, however, there were howls of approval, enthusiastic roars of applause; when it was time to announce they had only two more songs left, there was a unanimous expression of disappointment; finally as the last song came to a close, there was the request for an encore.

The show was a pleasure to watch, and the performance didn’t betray the recordings. The foundation of acoustic guitar, drums and bass guitar was accented with banjo, keyboard, xylophone and tambourine. The main strength is definitely Caroline’s voice, and the boys pulling forward to back her up with harmonized vocals help lift it up further. There was one cover song, “All My Loving” by the Beatles, which quite pleased the crowd. Afterward I heard a girl say she wanted to marry the bass player–great beginnings in New York City! -

"Minneapolis Interview"

Caroline Smith is a singer/songwriter from Northern Minnesota who is attending the University of Minnesota while pursuing her music career. In this interview, she talks about the benefits of stage parenting, having influential people in your corner and her CD release party on Wednesday, August 12th at the Seventh Street Entry.

How Was The Show: When did you start playing music? Was it always something you were drawn to?

Caroline Smith: To be honest, I don’t remember when I started playing music. My dad made it his life’s duty to teach each one of his three kids to be able to play and sing a Dylan song as soon as our hands were big enough to wrap around the neck of a guitar. It was something that we didn’t think too much about in our family. We ate, slept, and played music, we didn’t know much else.

HWTS: While most kids at age 16 are consumed with getting their driver's license, you were busy recording an album -- that had to be pretty heady stuff for someone so young.

CS: I remember anticipating my license so I could finally drive myself to my own shows and to be parent-free in recording sessions in Minneapolis, three hours south of Detroit Lakes, where I went to high school. I’ve always been very independent about the direction of my music, and that's all a drivers license really meant to me.

HWTS: And then there were the shows you opened for B.B. King -- how did that happen?

CS: Let’s just say it paid off to have a very proud mom who worked the room at all of my shows when I was younger. Somebody mentioned to her early on, "It’s all who you know," so she took the advice and ran, teaching me at 15 years old how important it is to network with the people that are interested in what you are doing. I fell into the right hands of a very nice promoter, who passed me along to the right hands of others. Needless to say, the experience was surreal. Sometimes I wish I could play with him now, at an older age, to really appreciate the legend that was off-stage listening intently to the songs I'd written.

HWTS: You moved to Minneapolis to go to college -- how easy was it to get integrated into the Minneapolis music scene, especially since you weren't old enough to hang around in bars?

CS: It was surprisingly easy. It is not unknown that the Minneapolis music scene is famous for a courteous and positive attitude for newcomers like me. I played a show with Mason Jennings in Fargo when I was 17, and happened to meet a handful of really great people. I can safely say I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren't for them. Mason's tour manager, Chad Weis, actually produced this new album, three years after initially meeting him. Through him, I got acquainted with the 400 Bar, through which I met two out of my three band members.

HWTS: Tom Sullivan, the owner of the 400 Bar, mentions you in the same breath with Mason Jennings and Haley Bonar. What has his support meant to your success?

CS: Tom has been a very supportive person to me and my music ever since I moved to the Twin Cities. I was very lucky to get a weekly residency at the 400 Bar through him and he’s always been there to answer any questions or introduce me to anyone, playing a crucial role in where I am now. He’s a friend I was very lucky to make.

HWTS: How did your band, the Good Night Sleeps, come together?

CS: I noticed my future drummer, Arlen Peiffer, now the new drummer for Cloud Cult, at every one of my first shows in Minneapolis, always front and center and learning the songs. Tom Sullivan approached me about possibly taking my solo songs to Arlen for a beat. We hit it off, and through him, I met Alex Ramsey (The Pines), my prophetical keyboard player/any other instrument we could possibly desire. Word hit the street that we were keeping our eyes out for a bassist, and in sauntered Jesse Schuster from Lucy Michelle and The Velvet Lapels, another amazing band. Too many fart jokes later, we decided to make things official.

HWTS: The new CD is called Backyard Tent Set -- talk about what went into recording it.

CS: A lot of cigarettes, a lot of coffee, and a lot of Mesa Pizza. Recording Backyard Tent Set had a lot of intense recording sessions, but we had way too much fun recording it. We used a lot of vintage equipment with a lot of room mics and group recordings. For a couple songs, we all sat in creaky chairs around one mic and would lay out an entire song. We wanted it to be reminiscent of what our live show is, and on our final day of recording, we were all pretty pleased with what we'd done. The four of us had a baby together and we named it Backyard Tent Set.

HWTS: If you were to pick one song off of Backyard Tent Set that is most representative of what Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps is all about, which one would it be?

CS: This is a hard question to answer because all of the songs on the album we feel fit together as a cohesive piece, aiming to sound as live as possible. But if I had to judge on the energy and beat that best represents our live shows, I think we would all agree on “Closing The Doors.”

HWTS: The CD release party for Backyard Tent Set is Wednesday, August 13th at the Seventh Street Entry. What all are we going to see there?

CS: On board with us, we've got Adam Svec from The Glad Version, A Paper Cup Band, and Ogre! Smash! Death! Boom!, a deceiving name for such endearing music. We'll play the album and a few new ones. Hopefully, I don't embarrass myself as I usually do with my infamously bad jokes when I get a microphone in my hands. I can't make any promises, though.

HWTS: You've got some dates scheduled for the East Coast at the end of August. What are your plans for the rest of the year?

CS: The rest of the year, I'm intending on playing shows around Minneapolis to continue the promotion of Backyard Tent Set and to finish up my junior year at the University of Minnesota. A West Coast tour is in the horizon for next spring, but until then, I have an English major I'm attempting to chase down.

HWTS: Thank you for all of your time. Any final comments?

CS: The album will be available on iTunes and various record shops in Minneapolis, and if you find yourself noticing the unique album art, the artist was Miles Mendenhall. Thanks for everything! -


Caroline Smith EP (2007)- Caroline Smith
Backyard Tent Set (2008)- Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps
Live at The Cedar (2010)- Caroline Smith with Jesse Schuster



Since her arrival in Minneapolis during the fall of 2006 as an 18-year-old, singer/songwriter, Caroline Smith has become a celebrated part of the Midwest artist community.

Her career began as a solo artist with a residency at Minneapolis' 400 Bar, a once reputable venue pivotal in shaping the careers of Elliot Smith, Conor Oberst, and local hero, Mason Jennings who less than a decade before began his own career with the same residency. Here she developed an independent sound which continues to be characterized by simple chord structures supporting sweet pop vocal melodies. Most recognizable in her music and the defining quality to her success is her alto singing voice quivering through vibrato, classic and controlled with the presence of Billy Holiday, Leslie Feist, and Joanna Newsom.

In 2007, Smith befriended drummer Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult), bassist Jesse Schuster, and multi-instrumentalist Colin Hacklander and the boys joined forces to support Caroline's folk tunes as the Goodnight Sleeps.

In August of 2008, Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps released their debut full length, Backyard Tent Set, recorded at the Devil's Workshop in Minneapolis with Chad Weiss (Mason Jennings, Ben Kweller). The prominent sound is of gentle folk instrumentation- acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, glockenspiel while Caroline's singing floats above in innocent and playful imagery and catchy pop hooks. This independently released LP has made major waves online, on air, and on tour. 7 national tours and constant circuit through the Midwest has garnered a commited following of audiences around the US.

In 2010 in celebration of several years of successful touring, Caroline and Goodnight Sleeps bassist, Jesse Schuster recorded live duo arrangements rooted in folk tradition. The limited addition Live at the Cedar [Cultural Center] was met with enthusiastic acclaim from fans around the states, and within 6 months of its release the disc was completely sold out.

Most recently, Caroline Smith and company have completed tracking a new full length at the Terrarium in Minneapolis with Jason Orris (Polara, Happy Apple, Haley Bonar) and the songs are currently being mixed with Tom Herbers (Low, Dark Dark Dark, Andrew Bird). The yet untitled full length expands upon Backyard Tent Set's story-telling whimsy, but shifts its foundation from the simplicities of folk to greater nuances of musical arrangement and soundscape rooted in modern indie rock. Loyal to the heart of Smith's sound, Caroline's unforgettable and endearing pop melodies remain the proudest strength of the record.

The record will find itself in your CD player in mid August, 2011.