The Smart Brothers
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by Aaron Phillips

An effort to impress girls led The Smart Brothers to acoustic music, and soon to their musical variety show. The Brothers, Lou and Jay had previously been in separate rock and electric synth projects before joining up to play together in San Diego. The Band's influences began with the acoustic guitar, but it soon evolved as it included '50s and '60s rock n roll sounds and the brothers love of harmonies, Lou Smart said. "We go for making people happy; we want it to feel like a celebration," he said. They liken themselves to a Vaudeville act and utilize everything from lutes and ukuleles to saxophones and slide whistles onstage. "We pick up different instruments on the road and we learn to play them," Smart said. Each of the band's members writes, which adds a slightly different feel to each song. The live shows include high energy and lots of dancing. "Most people say it's not like anything they've seen before," Smart said. While San Diego serves as a home for the group, The Smart Brothers has no real base. The group is on the road for most of the year. "The ultimate goal for this group, I guess, is to play for everyone in the world," Smart said. Amarillo will be one more step toward that goal. To sample the band's music or learn more, visit www.thesmartbrothers.com. The duo will play today at 806. - Amarillo Globe


by Amanda Andreen

Street performers at heart and gentlemen by nature, Jay, and Lou Smart (a.k.a. The Smart Brothers) are unraveling the heartstrings of local music critics and enthusiasts alike with their old Hollywood jazz and Americana folk style. With dozens of instruments, such as ukuleles, soprano guitars, a jaw harp, slide whistle, castanets and an accordion-just to name a few-The Smart Brothers are well versed in love and harmony. Painting a picture under the stars with nothing but their beautiful melodies and flawless instrumental synchronization, the sound of The Smart Brothers is lush, rich, and soulful.

How did the Smart Brothers come to collect so many instruments? Jay Smart, the proud player of the suitcase, which doubles as a bass drum, said, "The funny thing is that they each have very strange stories behind them. For instance, we were in a pawnshop one time in the South and there was this octave mandolin there. Well, Lou walked in and said, 'I have to have that octave mandolin.' Of course we couldn't afford it, but we went back home, dug up these old sheepskin drums and other weird things, traded it all in, and got the octave mandolin."

At a young age, Jay and Lou Smart garnered an appreciation for music not only as a result of their fascination for instruments, but also through the headphones of their walkmans blasting the inspirational tunes of Handel's "Messiah," The Beach Boys, and The Beatles.

"We were both sort of out doing our own thing at the time, and eventually we said 'you know, screw that, we're good enough to make our own music,'" said Lou, and that's what they did.

With a five track demo currently out, The Smart Brothers are gearing up to create and distribute a full-length artistic compilation of their music which not only captures their unique sound and soul, but is also as visually stimulating for their audience as their live show is. "To recreate what we do on stage is hard because it's very visual, so we're even thinking when it does come out in spring, it may be a DVD, we may really push the envelope as far as the presentation goes," said Jay.

Just back in town from a cross-country winter tour, The Smart Brothers, along with their banjos, kazoos and xylophones, (along with the other dozens of instruments) strive to please their audience and spend their lives doing what they love the most: making music. "Our whole thing is we just want to make people happy. When they come to our show, people feel like they are falling in love, and that's a good thing to feel," said Lou. "It's a great feeling," said Jay, " when you're actually falling in love in a relationship, that part doesn't last long, so we're trying to drag it out a little bit."

Geared with an orange VW van backed to the brim with musical gadgets, and dressed to the nines in slacks, bowties and Gatsby-like attire, one can easily find The Smart Brothers playing a show almost any night of the week. Regulars at several venues around town and performing on the streets upwards of four or five times a week, The Smart Brothers are thinking smart in terms of getting their name and their music out and into the hearts of San Diegans.

For more info and upcoming show dates, please visit: www.thesmartbrothers.com - The CSUSM Pride


Can you sing me your favorite song?
JAY: Sure, sure. Wait. Right now?

Yes.
Well, okay. This is “Lullaby.” It always reminds me of getting home after a long time away. [Sings] “Girl, go to sleep/You are safe in my arms/I’ll be waiting till morning co-o-omes/Girl, close your eyes/You are safe in my home/I’ll be waiting till morning co-o-omes.”

Nice. So are you really brothers?
Yes. I’m 23, my brother Lou is 21.

What are you guys doing here?
We’re from San Diego, and we’ve been on the road since January. We sold our cars, quit our jobs, and turned in the keys to our apartments.

Have you been singing together since you were kids?
Pretty much. My brother Lou, he met a girl in school and wrote maybe twenty songs in ten days.

He wrote them all in this romantic frenzy?
Yep. He sat down with a guitar, and every single day he’d call up at seven in the morning and say, “Guess what? I got another song.”

Do you fight a lot when you’re on the road?
We have a conflict-resolution method. If we’re just fighting and fighting, one of us will say, “All right, I’m going to write you a letter about that.” And sure enough, a couple days later one of us will get an e-mail. It allows us to fix the problem and not tear each other apart. - New York Magazine, The Look Book


GREG TOUMASSIAN, Staff Writer

From ragtime to sounds of the sublime, today's U-rock at noon will bring musicians of the present and instruments of the past together into one lively act: The Smart Brothers.

Castanets and tin whistles are just a few in a line of various old-time instruments the multi-talented duo depends on to bring a sound that is pulled from long ago when songs still felt inspired.

The anachronistic anomaly may come off as humorous to some, but the musicianship showcased today outside the Bronco Student Center will reveal that The Smart Brothers are not a mere novelty; they are driven by an underlying passion.

"Sometimes it can be a real sound nightmare because we have a lot of instruments," said Lou Smart. "Every song has harmony and it's another challenge, but we work hard."

While it may be exigent on Jay and Lou when tuned in unison to perfect harmony, the effect is sonically three-dimensional and will resonate well within the open-air environment of today's performance.

Inspired by classical composers such as Mozart and Handel to the more contemporary Led Zeppelin and fellow 1970s rockers, the trio takes from all angles of the musical spectrum and incorporates bits and pieces into otherwise original material.

With classical training mixed with skill picked up through practice and playing by ear, the music comes through with feeling and emotion while remaining defined. Although there is some room for The Smart Brothers to grow, it seems as though it would be more of musical expansion than a fine tuning in talent.

Innovative in a less conventional sense, The Smart Brothers depend on beat up suitcases and kick-drum pedals for rhythmic pacing throughout songs. Custom-made instruments accompany a unique sound that will leave a lasting impression on students in attendance.

Utilizing more conventional folk instruments - banjos, acoustic guitars, harmonicas and ukuleles - the trio creates strong melodies that are easy on the ears and unavoidably memorable.

The inspired "Lullabye" pulls from both rag and folk music, with chords arpeggiated to the sound of a distant rhythm. Those who indulge in sweet-toned singing should find themselves comfortable among the waves of harmonious overtones.

Rarely can such energy be pulled from a band that is primarily acoustic. With modified instruments that can be amplified electronically, the environment will be a grand change for an act that got its start on street corners and coffee shops.

Lou Smart revealed that while the instrumentation is an asset to the band, the real driving force is in the song.

"It's all about melody, melody and melody," said Smart. "We want to be able to do it all, but singing is most important." - AFTERNOON BLEND PREVIEW, Poly Post


An Interview with The Smart Brothers
by Ryne Ziemba

Southern California rockers, The Smart Brothers, have greatly contributed to the growing scene of modern folk-inspired pop music.
With tunes that would delight fans of bands like Wilco, The Smart Brothers at times sound like a Ryan Adams collaboration with Calexico. At other times, they sound like the Avett Brothers cut a track with the Strokes.

Either way, it is exactly their eclecticism that seems to be their strong suit. IN recently interviewed Lou and Jay of The Smart Brothers about their upcoming taping of an episode of StudioAmped at WSRE in Pensacola on March 5.

IN: How did you get started making music?
Jay: My first foray into the wonderful world of music is captured on an early family video. I am rocking out in a diaper playing the broom stick. I think I was one and a half years old. My first instrument was the piano, which I undertook at the ripe age of 5. My mother was quite a pianist and she taught me most everything she knew.
Lou: We started playing as The Smart Brothers (Smart is our Ma's maiden name), three years ago, after a dry spell in which we spent more time surfing and chasing girls than playing music. Anyway, I met this girl when I went back to school and fell in love with her hard. I wrote 10 songs in seven days and those songs, together with some older ones my bro had written, provided the foundation for a new act: The Smart Brothers.

IN: What has it been like to be involved in a musical project with your sibling? How has it been more fun or more challenging than making music with someone that you're not related to?
Lou: It's the only way it's been possible.
Jay: We've been in a lot of bands with a lot of folks, and for one reason or another it has just never worked out. Blood runs thicker than water. It's nice having a buffer, other people to add to the mix and kind of level us out--we are both super intense sometimes. But at the same time, you can't trust anyone like you can trust family, and at the end of the day, you have to work out your issues. There's no choice with family.

IN: You mention "traveling the world to live life to the fullest" on your website. How has traveling been a part of your music making experience and vice versa?
Jay: Traveling is how we started. We went everywhere that first year, everywhere from LA to NYC. We were playing on street corners most of the time. Inevitably, the songs that we wrote along the way reflect the oddness, the loneliness, the uncertainty, the exhilaration, the close calls with the law, the broken hearts, the confusion of being young and green--all the highest and lowest points.
Lou: Lots of stories out there; I feel like we're living characters in our songs. And conversely, music has taken us to some WEIRD places...

IN: What is the most exciting or inspiring experience you have had on tour?
Lou: Every night!
Jay: Surfing in New England, camping in the desert, music festivals playing in front of a thousand people, falling in love, skinny dipping, meeting awesome new friends all over the country, finding some old ones

IN: What bands have had the biggest influence on your music?
Lou: I'm into almost everything, I feel more like a metal drummer when I'm going for it on stage, and I listened to a lot of hard rock when I was learning to play. Here's a chronological list of bands I discovered growing up: Handel, Bach, Beach Boys, CCR, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Band, Misfits, Black Sabbath
Jay: Everything I've heard has influenced me, here are the main ones: Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Handel, Wagner, Bach, Mozart, Slayer, Dream Theater, Opeth, Mastodon, Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica, The Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Josh Groban, Talib Kweli, 2Pac

IN: What advice do you have for any aspiring musicians?
Jay: Start with the heart; if there's no heart there's nothing. It's really hard doing it every day and night, but if you do it long enough you WILL succeed--you will get there. Don't be afraid to go extreme; move where you have to move, sell what you have to sell, sacrifice everything. That's the price.
Lou: Have fun, and never lose sight of that. As you get further along, don't put up with getting pushed around; it happens a lot, you'll see. Get good at what you do, write songs that are true. Never, ever give up.

IN: What other things do you like to do when you're not making music or touring?
Lou: Surfing, fishing, hanging out with the fam.
Jay: Studying the Upanishads, world traveling, learning, reading, string theory, surfing, cycling, spending time with the fam, writing, volleyball.

- Independent Weekly


The Smart Brothers
Brittany Verga, Staff Writer
Issue date: 4/24/08

With today's electronically driven musical influence in pop culture, there isn't much room left for the accordion and ukulele. In a period where music is rapidly changing, it is rare (and refreshing) to see young musicians revert to their classical roots. Vaudeville was at the center of American culture, during the turn of the century. Variety performances were an indispensable factor in providing communities with comical relief in their mundane lives. Grassroots music, dancing and skits with picturesque costumes proved to be the amusement Americans needed. The purpose of the variety show was to perform for the masses. It was not uncommon to see three-chord harmonies performed in barbershops, department stores and on the streets by men dressed in suspenders, pin-striped bowties and Chaplin hats. Local San Diego band The Smart Brothers gives vaudeville a fighting chance. The two-member band describes its music as an experience. Jay and Lou Smart are reminiscent of a zealous traveling band with the propriety and charm of Jay Gatsby. The band's good-hearted demeanor, inquisitive nature and harmonious talent give its audience not only a performance, but an interactive and unconventional experience. Its show can be described as a vaudeville revival in the genre of new-aged folk. Songs such as "Lullabye" and "Daisy Song" reveal powerful vocal skills and brilliant multi-instrumentalists. As troubadours of the 21st century, The Smart Brothers are on the edge of a musical renaissance. All of its songs, whether performed in a variety show or on the street, are original. "Why not do something great?" Jay Smart asked. After deciding The Smart Brothers will never go mainstream, the band members say they want to be the hardest-working band in the business and hoist music out of its rut. The Smart Brothers found themselves in San Diego when its traveling van needed repairs. The band, which was assembled in October 2007, has been in San Diego the last three months performing throughout the county, as well as making a couple trips to Los Angeles. While it performs almost every day, the band says the greatest public response comes from street performances. A U.S. tour is currently in the works, with Nashville, Tenn. being the first destination. The two young musicians say they want to crash into life. The Smart Brothers' outlook on fame is unique when compared to many aspiring bands. Its purpose is to provide the love of music to the masses. This band doesn't need a venue or a music label to feel accomplished. The Smart Brothers said they don't see fame as a validation or of any importance. They want to perform for the world and bring back the elation and social aspect of music. The Smart Brothers will continue its nomadic journey as far as the music will take the show. For music enthusiasts alike, it is tough not to smile at the harmony and variety-show wit of these two gentlemen. Anyone strolling Downtown or dashing to work can listen to The Smart Brothers.
- The Daily Aztec


Discography

-"The Smart Brothers" self-titled LP-2008
-"The Smart Brothers" My Baby-2009

Photos

Bio

Jay and Lou Smart are two brothers from California who have been traveling around the country for the past few years living lives full of the sort of strange adventures you’d expect from a couple of young gentlemen. It is hardly a surprise, then, that the peculiar music of the Smart Brothers wafts distinctly of the open road- of faraway places that are not so faraway as they seem perhaps. The raw energy these lads put into everything they do is palpable…and contagious. They’ve managed to bridle their exuberance within a sparse acoustic medium that is at once classic and entirely refreshing. Inspired by the finest traditions of American roots music, the brothers have cultivated their vocal harmonies in a manner seldom achieved by any other sort of singing group save those bonded by blood and family. That being said, such harmonies have never existed in such a spunky collection of tunes before. You may well wonder why you have never heard acoustic music as exciting as this before.