"It used to be such a huge part of everyday life, I feel its been slightly de-valued these days. It makes me sad that most people younger than me will never own music, have a record collection etc. Music touches me more than anything in the world and that will never change for me and so many others."
Josh Smith: Blues Rock Dynamite Axe
Blues rock guitar virtuoso, singer-songwriter and producer, Josh Smith, is hailed the world over as a master guitarist with raw talent and power to spare. Blending his signature mix of blues, rock and jazz into dynamic original songs, Smith is known for his incendiary live performances, whether at the Grammy Awards or the Kennedy Center Honors with Mick Jagger, Raphael Saadiq and others. Josh has been named the 16th best living blues guitar player in the world by Guitar World Magazine. Born in 1979, Josh started playing guitar at age six. Praised as a blues prodigy by the time he was 12 years old, he began playing at professional blues jams in South Florida, sitting in with such greats as Jimmy Thackery, Tinsley Ellis, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Double Trouble, Joanna Connor and Kim Simmonds, among others. Jimmy Thackery proved true as Josh began releasing CDs at age 14. The legendary producer Jim Gaines produced Josh’s third CD, Too Damn Cold and Woman. Opening for B.B. King was just the beginning for this in-demand artist and lead guitarist for artists such as Taylor Hicks, Ricky Fante, Raphael Saadiq, actress Taryn Manning, hip-hop artists Benny Cassette and Tara Ellis, and more.
He has the distinction of inducting Neil Diamond into the Kennedy Center Honors with Raphael Saadiq’s band and honoring Solomon Burke at the Grammys with Mick Jagger. Within a year of moving to L.A. in 2002, Josh was retained by Virgin recording artist Ricky Fante and performed nationally and internationally for the next two years. In 2006, Josh recorded his fifth CD, Deep Roots and continued to play with a variety of artists. In 2007, Josh was hired by 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to be his lead guitarist. They completed two national tours before Josh was hired as lead guitarist by Grammy Award winner Raphael Saadiq. In 2009, Josh released his 6th studio CD, Inception and in 2010 he was signed to Crosscut Records based in Germany. Crosscut re-released Josh’s breakout album, Deep Roots as I’m Gonna Be Ready. In 2013, Josh’s CD Don’t Give Up On Me was also released in Germany, followed by Over Your Head in 2014. In 2016, Josh’s jazz album, Still was released to critical acclaim as was Burn To Grow in 2018. Along with touring the world, recording and performing with renowned artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Kirk Fletcher and others, Smith is also a producer and owns Flat V Studios in Los Angeles. He has produced artists Reese Wynans, Artur Menezes, Seth Rosenbloom, Jamey Arent and many more. Josh Smith new album "Live At The Spud" (2020), recorded live at The Baked Potato in Studio City, CA December 29 &30, 2018. Josh lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
Interview by Michael Limnios Special Thanks: Niki Baker Smith
How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
I think I've mostly been influenced by the friendships and camaraderie between fellow musicians and also fans. It is a wonderful little part of the world, the music scene, to be a part of. Playing music is the greatest thing in the world to me. It is great to make friends with like minded people.
How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?
My sound is of course a melting pot of my influences. I love all forms of music and really try to listen to all styles with an open mind and find something to like. So, my songbook is filled with my versions of all that great music. My creative drive mostly comes from the need to constantly be moving forward. I always want to be growing and pushing myself ahead.
"I just miss the amount of shitty little gigs. I love playing and miss just playing every night. I hope that comes back and younger musicians get that chance to play more when they are most open and growing."
What touched (emotionally) you from a live performance? What has made you laugh from Baked Potato recording nights?
As far as being touched by a live performance seeing Oscar Peterson was a huge moment for me when I was younger. Also, the many times I've seen Kenny Garrett are always a major inspiration. His improvisation is magical to me.
As far as the Baked Potato recordings, the little inside jokes are the best. Most of the music is from the second night so the fact that Triple J Hoedown is the lone track from night one is funny to me being its the most complicated song and one we haven't played much.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I just miss the amount of shitty little gigs. I love playing and miss just playing every night. I hope that comes back and younger musicians get that chance to play more when they are most open and growing.
How started the thought of Flat V Studio? Are there any memories from studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Flat V has always been a dream. The support of my wife and family made it possible for me to have it after we bought our house. It truly is a dream come true. Its amazing to have had legends like James Gadson and Mike Finnigan and many other in my studio. It is also enabled me to be much more productive and record and release way more material. Projects I've always wanted to do.
"My sound is of course a melting pot of my influences. I love all forms of music and really try to listen to all styles with an open mind and find something to like. So, my songbook is filled with my versions of all that great music. My creative drive mostly comes from the need to constantly be moving forward. I always want to be growing and pushing myself ahead." (Josh Smith / Photo by Michael Golab/Fotogolab)
Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Getting to be around BB King was the most influential experience for me. He was such a professional, a true high watermark as a person, entertainer and musician. Everything you could ever want to be in this business.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?
The biggest thing is to do it because you love it and always be striving for greatness. Always keep pushing yourself to learn new things and be better tomorrow than today.
What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?
It used to be such a huge part of everyday life, I feel its been slightly de-valued these days. It makes me sad that most people younger than me will never own music, have a record collection etc. Music touches me more than anything in the world and that will never change for me and so many others.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
I'd want to be somewhere in a studio making music with Bobby Bland singing!!!! And then maybe go to a Yankees game at old Yankee Stadium that night!
(Josh Smith / Photo by Michael Golab/Foto Golab)
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