Clifton Park native Matt Smith returns for series of shows celebrating albums


Matt Smith, from Clifton Park, returns to the Capital Region for a series of shows celebrating eight new albums and 10 reissues.

Needless to say, the musician and teacher, who resides in Austin, Texas, has been very busy.

Starting Wednesday, it presents a series of four-day shows. Wednesday and Thursday will be at Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs, Friday at the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls and Saturday at the Pauly’s Hotel in Albany.

Although Smith hasn’t lived locally for over two decades, he has maintained strong relationships in the region.

“I have so many lifelong friends there and my band, which I play with, has always been based there. They are all well known musicians from the Capital District and for me it was really the birthplace of my career, where it all happened and where I kind of grew and trained, ”said Smith.

Growing up, Smith’s house was filled with instruments. He comes from a long line of musicians on the father’s side of the family and he still uses some of the guitars his family has passed down from generation to generation.

“There were always guitars around and it resonated instantly the first time I picked one up,” Smith said.

He was largely self-taught and after graduating from Shenendehowa High School at age 17, he ventured to San Francisco, where several of his favorite bands like Santana and the Grateful Dead were rooted, and worked as a street musician. for some years.

“Really what I did was play guitar ten hours a day,” Smith said. “I learned a lot.”

This included the ability to sense what your audience was feeling and trust their instincts.

“It informed everything I’ve done since then,” Smith said.

In the years that followed, Smith returned to the Capital Region and performed with local bands and formed his own, called The Matt Smith Band and Matt Smith’s World, and taught in local music stores. At the age of 30, he moved to New York.

“I had reached a certain peak of what I could accomplish there in Albany, and then I basically moved to New York to get my butt kicked because I had to move to a bigger place to grow. And when I first moved to New York, I got my butt kicked, but after 15 years I learned. I played with some of the best musicians in the world and started touring internationally and became myself, ”Smith said.

Some of these musicians included BB King, Sheryl Crow, and Trey Anastasio.

When his parents moved to Austin several years ago, Smith decided to follow them to spend more time with them. It didn’t hurt that the music scene developed there. Since taking root there, he has opened a recording studio called 6 String Ranch with fellow musician Bill Kaman. It focuses on established and upcoming songwriters including Robben Ford, David Grissom Redd Volkaert, Bill Kirchen and Ed Gerhard.

For the past decade, he has also worked with at-risk youth in Austin, helping set up a recording studio for the Phoenix Academy, an addiction and alcohol rehab center for 13-17 year olds.

“It helped me get out of my own head, which was really important. I realized that I was never comfortable having my life around me. I was much happier helping others, ”said Smith.

He focuses on others in “Being Human”, the flagship record of the new albums. The creation lasts around four years and many songs reflect on the human condition, looking through the prism of current issues, like immigration and political fundamentalism, as well as timeless themes like narcissism.

“Down in the Hole”, one of the tracks on the album, talks about the feelings of isolation that can go along with depression and drug use.

“How We Got Here” emphasizes the importance of paying attention to and appreciating the democratic process in the country.

“There are a number of pretty political songs, but also some great rock and roll songs,” Smith said.

He released it last year, in the midst of a pandemic. Unlike many musicians, Smith’s daily routine didn’t change much and he was just as busy recording projects for other bands and a few of his own.

This includes the reissue of “Parlor,” a solo acoustic instrumental album recorded with an 1890s Thompson and Odell salon guitar, passed down through the Smith family over four generations.

Then there’s “Chop Shop – Live at Strange Brew,” an improvisation album Smith recorded with Ed Friedland and Bryan Austin. “Matt Smith’s World – Live at the Saxon Pub” is another new release, featuring established musicians from Austin. His four digital reissues follow the development of his career from 1988 to 2020.

“The most important thing for any artist is to never stop growing and never stop evolving. I think I’ve evolved over the years, both as a human being and as an artist, because I think it goes hand in hand, ”Smith said.

The albums are available on most music platforms and Smith said he hopes the songs will bring a smile to listeners and give them food for thought.

“The easiest thing to do is try to radiate light and positivity to those around you. Remember to say a kind word to people or reach out to a friend, reach out to a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while and check in with them, ”Smith said. “These are the things I’m trying to say with these records in particular.”

For future shows, he will perform with Tony Perrino, Chris Peck, Pete Sweeney, Brian Melick and Charlie Tokarz.

Here’s a look at the upcoming concert schedule for Matt Smith’s World:

8 p.m. Wednesday September 8 and Thursday September 9 at Putnam Place.
8 p.m. Friday, September 10 at the Strand Theater. Tickets cost $ 15.
8 p.m. Saturday September 11 at the Pauly’s Hotel. Tickets cost $ 10.
Beyond the concerts, he will also host a songwriting workshop at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at Wicked in Clifton Park.

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