Shane Smith and The Saints

Play just the first 10 seconds of "The Mountain," which opens Geronimo, the
latest and most ambitious release from Shane Smith & The Saints. Robust a
cappella, four-part harmonies set the stage for a saga of family tragedy, a young
son's revenge and a blaze burning eternally in a Pennsylvania mine. The vivid
lyrics, powerful vocals and thumping four-beat drums throughout this song are
reason enough for lovers of creative roots music to celebrate.
From their home base in Austin through performances across the country (17
states) and abroad (Ireland), these five gentlemen have not just stuck stubbornly
to their musical and lyrical convictions. They've defied audience expectations by
delivering incendiary shows, each one ignited by the band's ability to unleash,
feed from and feed back the energy of the crowd -- in spite of the fact that they
don't fit easily into any musical category.
With Geronimo, they've dared themselves to exceed their own expectations.
Each song begins with Smith creating its "bones," in the form of chords and lyrics.
He then joins fiddler Bennett Brown, lead guitarist Tim Allen, bassist Chase
Satterwhite and drummer Bryan McGrath in the studio to bring those bones to life.
Aside from a bit of cello, some horns and a few keyboard parts, the band lays
down each note on Geronimo. Their ability to bring songs to life has even earned
them opportunities to record instrumental tracks for other artists.
Smith's ability to draw images from everyday life into poetry goes back to his
earliest days in Terrell, Texas, an hour east of Dallas.
"There was an old Catholic church right next to our house," he recalls. "To this
day, I remember those church bells ringing. In fact, I use that reference in a song
from Geronimo called 'Suzannah,' which is about a guy who's fighting a war and
is thinking of his hometown -- and he also remembers being raised with a church
bell ringing on the hour every day."
Before he ever thought of himself as a songwriter, Smith was concerned mainly
with tennis. He played for the formidable program at Tyler Junior College before
transferring to St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Smith soon began getting
into music as well, playing solo gigs in local bars. And he began writing, inspired
by looking at life as it played out around him.
"I'd be in a restaurant and overhear someone saying something, and I'll have to
excuse myself, walk outside and write a note to myself about it," he says. "These
days, I make little iPhone recordings. The other day I made one about this
homeless guy I saw by the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere. He was
dirty and worn out but he was picking these gorgeous flowers. I constantly see
moments and images and statements, put them in the bank and have them there
to reflect on and make into honest lyrics down the road."
Even when he writes a love song, Smith almost can't help but turn the mundane
into something transcendent. On Geronimo, he does this with "All I See Is You":
"The storm's running through the Midwest like a bandit on the loose. / All the
clouds are black as night and all I see is you. / The rain's pouring through the
window panes and the cracks of this roof. / Tea's boiling from the spout of the pot,
but all I see is you."
Recorded and self-produced while on the road throughout Austin, Dallas and
Nashville, Geronimo weaves these images into story lines, each enhancing the
other, together coming alive. "I love trying to tell stories through songs," Smith
observes. "There's something that fascinates me about echoing old tales in
songs to carry them on for years and years, like old folk songs."
And so we travel with a newly freed slave in the nineteenth century, hearing the
music and feeling the exuberance of dancing in Congo Square on "New
Orleans." We feel the rueful reflection from a sinner who "spent time on the
wrong side of the church door" on "Right Side of the Ground." We stand shoulder
to shoulder with the Alamo's doomed heroes as their final seconds near on
"Crockett's Prayer." And the title track serves a dual purpose, taking us to a
heroic time and place while making a broader statement about this project.
“On one end, it is an attempt to pay tribute to the life of Geronimo, the Apache
warrior,” says Smith. “I've always been fascinated by Geronimo and the
principles he stood for. This also presented the perfect opportunity to relate the
term 'Geronimo' with our intensions of this album and the 'jumping from a cliff'
idea that it symbolizes. If we are going to attempt a career in music, this album is
our commitment to give it everything we've got.”
“Our goal with this album was never to put out a bunch of catchy singles and be
all over the radio,” explains Smith. “It was to set us apart, with meaningful lyrics,
huge harmonies and the sound of a hard-working band that has played some
crappy gigs and come out stronger for it. We always had the options to either
make a 'safe' record or put something out that sounds like us and no one else.”
"We took that second option and named it Geronimo."

Strangetowne

Inspiration, dedication, experience, and originality are the hallmarks of Strangetowne. In early 2013, guitarist, Ben Cargo and drummer, Jordon McClain met for the first time with singer-songwriters, Tyler Horning and Lincoln Youree, and within weeks a dozen original tunes were arranged and ready to perform. With the help of legendary venue, The Golden Light Cantina, the band began to rehearse at every opportunity, honing the finer points of their performance. With vulnerable and serious songwriting, punctuated with driving beats, energetic lead guitar work, and enormous harmonies, the quartet has found a formula that resounds with audiences. With a commitment to writing and performing the best music they can muster, Strangetowne will make their mark on any listeners that come their way. Recorded at MajorSeven Studios in Amarillo, TX, their debut release, Hard Earned Love, is due September 2015.

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