Friday, August 24, 2007
Is Shawn Smith really Seattle's Best Kept Secret? Hey, Billboard.com seems to think so and I'm not one to argue mainstream press for one of my all-time favorites. I supposed Mr. Smith is a "secret" because most people just eat what they get fed. They never step outside the box of Top 40 and Wal-Mart mainstream country records to see what beauty lies just a few feet away.
If you are not familiar with Shawn Smith, good fucking God, listen up. Singer/songwriter for so many amazing projects: Brad, Satchel, Pigeonhed, Forever Breakers, From The North, and a slew of simply beautiful solo records. He's been called the Grunge answer to Prince, and while he never made one note of grungy music, he definitely rocks the Prince thing hard. Instead of a skinny black guy, you get a pear-shaped white guy.
My wife and I got to witness Brad rock the Bowery Ballroom in 2003, on tour to support their third LP, "Welcome To Discovery Park". Now, most know that Brad is rounded out by Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard (and other friends from Seattle: Jeremy Toback and Regan Hagar), but what we didn't know is that there's a hardcore fan base that are die-hard Brad/Satchel/Shawn fans that do not like Pearl Jam and follow Brad around the world just like PJ fans do. We were front and center as Brad killed it, playing tracks from all three studio albums, a few Satchel cuts and an unbelievable cover of "Bennie and The Jets".
Satchel is basically just Brad without Stone Gossard (even though he did produce their debut, ESL). Their two albums are right up there with the best of Brad. Then we have the solo records. So good. The first two (including a sick live record) were out of print for years. In fact, I bought two burns off eBay years ago for $80. Yes, their that good. His last release, Shield Of Thorns, was released in 2004, along with the reissues of his first two records, which I had to purchase again. This was followed by a rarities comp, "Brad Vs. Satchel", combining b-sides ad rarities from the last Satchel LP sessions and outtakes from the WTDP sessions for Brad. Holds its own with the best of them. If you want to buy anything from Shawn, you can go to his website and check out the Hoookah link, including rarities, b-sides and tracks from new projects that haven't made it to CD yet: www.shawnsmith.co.uk
Sadly, not many people are in the know of this amazing musician. Even those hardcore within the PJ circuit don't know who Brad is (or any of the other fantastic PJ side projects like Wellwater Conspiracy, Stone Gossard's amazing solo record, Three Fish, The Rockfords, etc). The thing is, the people that know and love Shawn's music are not casual about it...They're (we're) hardcore about it. Shit, I've considered flying to Seattle on many an occasion just to see Shawn play a small club or lounge/bar on just a few days notice. Hell, I'm thinking about it right now. Enjoy now, pay later!
Stuff to check out:
Jeremy Toback (Brad, Satchel)- 3 releases (2 CD's, 1 EP) from the late 90's.
Stone Gossard- Bayleaf
Shawn Smith- Shield Of Thorns
Satchel- The Family
Brad- Interiors (the best record of any of these projects)
Twilight Singers- Twilight (Greg Dulli from the Afghan Whigs, features Shawn on a few tracks)
Check this out and then buy it all:
Brad- "The Day Brings"