October 1, 2005

Michael Smith

— Songwriter —

MICHAEL SMITH ichael was born in South Orange, New Jersey on September 7, 1941 and raised in the Oranges, attending Our Lady of the Valley and Our Lady of Sorrows, Catholic schools that are the setting for some of his better known songs.

e bought a guitar at fifteen for five dollars ! and was soon playing in a group inspired equally by the Kingston Trio and Harry Belafonte. The act was called The Kalypso Kids and played a lot of VFW halls and psychiatric hospitals. The Kalypso Kids were the first to record a Michael Smith song: Teen Dream. This recording, waxed on the spot, is lost in antiquity.

ollege in Florida saw him in a quartet organized by Michael called the Wanderers, with gigs on the beach and at local coffeehouses. Michael began touring with as duet: "We hit every coffee-house in the world," Michael recalls. "Those were days when you got hired by the week and people stood in line. They didn't even have to know who you were. It was Folk Music, and Folk Music was happening."

hree years of six nights a week at The Flick in Miami followed where Michael did entirely his own material. "I would say the song was Fred Neil's. People would say 'Oh, I hadn't heard that one.' I'd say 'It's one of his better ones, don't you think?'" At the Flick Michael met his wife Barbara Barrow, and they traveled and signed contracts with Decca and later Arista.

teve Goodman recorded Michael's The Dutchman, and music lovers started finding out about Michael's songs. Michael and Barbara became regulars, played the Philadelphia Folk Festival, worked with John Prine, taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music, organized a benefit in commemoration of their friend Gamble Rogers ... making his name large in folk music. Michael wrote the music for the Steppenwolf production of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and with that production he toured for two years: Chicago, La Jolla, London, and finally Broadway and two Tony Awards for Best Director and Best Play.

ichael tours frequently, doing exclusively his own material and writing at a "feverish" pace. "I feel so grateful to get to do what I do," Michael says. "I feel I was born to write songs."

This was indeed an evening of great compositions and moving songs ...

Link to Michael's web site: Michael Smith Live at Dark Thirty

Link to Michael Devlin's review of this concert:   Music Matters Review  

Opening for John tonight were our featured open mike performers:

  • Ira Perlman
  • Steven Glickstein
  • Claude Margouleff
  • Bob Koenig
  • Larry Levitt
  • Bob Mist
  • Robin Inwald
  • Denise Romas
  • Barry Be
  • James O'Malley
  • Our host this evening was Ira Perlman. If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...