"Just as Buddy lives on in his music and the lives he touched and continues to touch, that spirit fills Bruce Smith's song "'59 Stratocaster", a poignant tribute to Buddy's beautiful spirit and promise."
-Maria Elena Holly
“Powerful folk songs with a conscience.”
-The Washington Post
Austin-based alternative Americana-roots singer and songwriter, Bruce Smith is “rockin’ ‘til the wheels fall off, come hell or high water.” Bruce believes that “if you have someone or something you love, you do whatever it takes,” so he writes about life, love, redemption and salvation. “‘59 Stratocaster” is a song from his fifth studio album, ‘Til The Wheels Fall Off, on Blackwall Records that has taken on a life of its own. The song recalls a visit Smith took with his wife to the Buddy Holly Museum where he saw the last guitar the deceased rock & roll legend ever played. “It’s about the guitar being on the bus, and going to the next gig when her master won’t be there,” reflects Smith. The single is a loving tribute to Buddy Holly, penned in the same spirit and under the same Texas sunshine where Buddy wrote many of his hits. Within a few months of Bruce Smith playing it in some of Austin’s hippest venues, Hollywood took notice and chose it to be featured in two major productions, a documentary and a romantic comedy inspired by Buddy. The Bruce Smith Band performed at The Cactus Theatre in Buddy Holly’s hometown Lubbock, Texas on Buddy Holly’s birthday on Friday, September 7, 2018. ’Til The Wheels Fall Off, was released on Friday, November 9, 2018.
Bruce is on the verge to become the first Americana act signed to Hacienda International Records, home of the legends of Conjunto and Tejano. He has played at iconic venues around the U.S including, Bottom Line in New York City, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, festivals on the Boston Common, mainstays at Austin's Saxon Pub and Antone's. He has opened for Gary Clark, Jr., Nils Lofgren, Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Sexton among a host of others. Bruce Smith’s performances have been touted by The Washington Post as “powerful folk songs with a conscience,” and praised by Performing Songwriter Magazine, while Austin’s top talent booker calls him “the fastest rising star in Austin since Los Lonely Boys.” The band consists of the man behind it all, Bruce Smith (singer/songwriter), Spencer Jarmon (lead guitar), Zeke Jarmon (bass guitar), Conner Church (drummer), and Grammy Award winner Randy Caballero (keyboards). The group initially came together January 2004, when a few of the members met at J.T. Van Zandt’s Longbranch Inn open mic night.
‘Til The Wheels Fall Off was initially mastered and recorded at SG Studios in Ft.Worth. The studio was a recommendation of a person the band worked with in Nashville. SG studios “is a funky little award winning recording studio,” and has been since 1991. Greg White did all the initial recording, engineering, mixing and mastering and did a great job under difficult circumstances. Randy Caballero, keyboard player and a Grammy Award winning producer came back to Texas after living in Montana for a spell. He went back in and re-recorded some things on the album. He remixed and remastered with Omar Vallejo at 512 Studios here in Austin. The two worked well together and were able to tweak the sound exactly where The Bruce Smith Band wanted it.
Bruce grew up near Detroit, Michigan, downriver, where the local music scene was thriving with legendary locals such as, Aretha Franklin, Motown, Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger and more. His family moved to Atlanta before his junior year of high school, where he lived until graduating college, working all types of jobs; paperboy, dishwasher, to landscaper. He then moved to Washington D.C. and worked in the House and Senate mailrooms, was a Congressional intern and staffer, and a Gubernatorial campaign volunteer organizer. Bruce’s father is one of the biggest music fans he has ever known and had all of Elvis’ 45’s. Bruce knew all the lyrics to all the Beatles, Mary Poppins and Frank Sinatra songs by the time he was about 5 or 6 years old. His dad took Bruce and his siblings to see their first concert; The Who and Toots and The Maytals in 1975. The whole Smith clan are huge and knowledgeable music fans, music was very important in their lives from the start.
Bruce is inspired by musical legends such as, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Motown, Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin, John Hiatt, Los Lobos, Van Morrison, Al Green, John Fogerty, to name just a few. Non-musical influences include his parents, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and author, Tom Robbins. Bruce hopes that his music will have a wide ranging empathy to listeners. “I hope to touch hearts and minds with shared experiences and/or feelings...mostly I aspire to inspire and hopefully uplift people.” To Bruce, “music and art can speak truth to power and express dreams and aspirations maybe more effectively than anything else. The freedom of speech and expression is our hope for constantly improving.” Many of the bands songs are inspired by a personal experience, with each band member leaving their own unique imprint on a song’s ultimate flow and structure.