led Smith on music career
CARROLLTON, Ky. "You won't find out about Steve Smith by
talking to him. You have to listen to his music to know what he's thinking,"
says Stan Boyd, a friend of Smith's who has been listening to this talented
Carroll County songwriter for several years.
"He is a real intellect, with a deep spirituality,
and it's revealed through his lyrics," Boyd said. Whether hunched
over his guitar or caught up in the rhythm of his percussion, Smith
looks more like a graduate of the Charles Atlas Course for total muscular
development than the accomplished musician and songwriter that he is.
But just as laboring over the words to his original compositions is
an intellectual exercise, so, too, is keeping fit to this Carroll County
High School graduate who attended Georgetown College on a football scholarship
and today stays in shape by rock climbing, biking and farming. In between,
he works in the wet chemistry department of North American Stainless.
Those who have seen Smith perform in person or who have bought his CDs
might be surprised to learn that he did not start playing the guitar
until he was 29 years old. "It wasn't until I was in graduate school
at Eastern that I learned to play," said Smith.
During his time at Eastern Kentucky University, Smith met Dr. Wayne
Jennings, who hosted regular gatherings of guitar players. "I thought
they were the coolest things ever. Everyone traded songs and jammed
for the afternoon. I realized then that a person could truly make music,
and from there, something just clicked."
After leaving Eastern, Smith continued to just "noodle around,
and write a few songs." When he heard about the program at
the local public library called ėCelebrate Carroll County," he
ventured out to perform.
Shortly thereafter, he met Kevin Stonerock, producer of Carrollton's
outdoor drama, ėThe Point in Time."
"Joining the cast and singing in the group ėBottom Dollar' with
Stonerock and his wife, Laurie, and John and Jane Harrod, changed my
Now with a showcase for his original songs and a group of talented musicians
with whom to perform, Smith entered a period of intense creativity.
Bottom Dollar made an album titled, "The Story in the Stone,"
featuring several of his songs.
"I still have people call to see if we have made another CD or
if we are going to be performing anywhere, but it isn't logistically
possible for us to get together very often," he said. Still, they
have worked together on other albums. Smith's first solo CD, "gods
were there," was produced by Stonerock with the rest of the group
providing back-up vocals.
Stonerock, who has worked in Nashville, Tenn., and produced several
CDs, says of Smith, "He is one of the most creative performers
I have ever worked with " truly a wordsmith, and I love that his
melodies are so unpredictable."
While the first CD has a folk flavor, Smith's interest in percussion
and his move toward a harder-driving sound is reflected in his second
effort, "Strange Child." On this CD, Smith worked with Beau
Haddock, a Lexington musician and a founding member of The Little River
"Steve is one of the most genuine musicians I have ever met,"Haddock
said. "I really admire his artistic endeavor; it's not part of
the mainstream." Smith is quick to give credit to those who influenced
him. "Paul Simon, Dylan, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor,"
he says. "The acoustical performers today are standing on their
shoulders, whether we know it or not. I really struggle with the lyrics,
but like Paul Simon says, everything begins with the melody."
Today, Smith works from home, a log house in the middle of his family's
38 acres near Ghent, Ky. He and his wife, Kim, director of nursing at
the Carroll County Hospital, incorporated a recording studio into the
dwelling when they built it just three years ago. Lately, he has been
working with Boyd, Scott Robinson and his brother, Brad, to mix the
spoken word with music. He is also working with a story teller, Laurie
Schimmoeller, from Monterey.
"I would love to do an album of children's songs, and collaborating
with her seems a good starting place." Smith wishes more people
had access to his music, but admits, "I am terrible at marketing."
Whether he has commercial success or not, Smith has a compulsion to
create. He continues to be inspired by his wife and three children:
Jessie, a high school senior; 14 year-old son, Duncan; and 12-year-old
daughter, Bailey. "Strange Child" and "gods were there"
are available at Noe's Video Radio Shack outlet in Carrollton or may
be ordered directly from Smith at Box 513, Ghent, KY 41045. "The
Story in the Stone" is sold out.
Back to January 2001