Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roger Len Smith And Life’s Journey

There are millions of people around this earth who are far more qualified to comment about the current music scene than I ever will be. But, I yield to not a single person the right to comment on those things which I like, and I like the music of Roger Len Smith.

There are a lot of us, who, as kids, wrote a few songs, played musical instruments, or sang, but in such a way that guaranteed us a future of musical oblivion. Even among those of us who are more musically inclined, there are many who can sing, but not play an instrument. There are others, of course, who can play an instrument, but cannot sing a single note. Others still, who can both play an instrument and sing, just not at the same time. Some can write lyrics, but not the tunes. For others, words come hard, but the music flows. Some musicians can perform alone, while others need to be backed up with a host of other musicians to be successful. It is rare when someone can do it all, and even more rare if it is done well.

Roger Len Smith, seemingly, is one of those musicians who can do it all. In an analogy to the corporate world in which I’m most familiar, Roger is the “go to” person who can do it all when it needs to be done, and can do it successfully. Roger writes his own songs, can play all the instruments, has a great voice, and can either perform alone or humbly share the limelight with others. In addition, he is positive, energetic, and entertaining.

I first heard Roger’s music “live” last month when I attended a small but important benefit concert to collect holiday toys for needy children. His appearance at that event was very characteristic of him, as he seems to be extremely committed to doing whatever he can to help others. His musical resume is long with appearances at events which serve the common good. This social consciousness, along with his musical talents, are impressive, to say the very least.

Last night, in the small community of Point Venture, on the north shore of Lake Travis, Roger and his band, additionally comprised of the extremely talented Jay Ewell (on bass) and Jimmy Spencer (on drums), had a release party for their new CD, Clear Blue Skies. In front of large crowd in the community’s “Venture Room,” Roger and his mates played a wonderful set of songs. Much of the music, of course, was from the new CD, including, “Clear Blue Skies,” “Batten Down The Hatches,” “Amanda Always Told Me I’d Shine,” “Don’t Want To Be Alone Right Now,” and “Rhode Island Girl,” which was written for his wife, who is originally from the state of Rhode Island. Popular songs from his previous four CD’s were performed as well.

Smith grew up in the diverse and inclusive Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, attended Miami University in the Ohio college town of Oxford, spent many years in California, and finally ended up in the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas. As a historian, I believe that the importance of life is about the journey, and what we learn and contribute along the way. And, while I don’t know Roger Len Smith personally, I do believe that the sharing of his musical gifts, his life as told through his often “true story” lyrics, the music he has composed, and the commitment to causes which he believes in, demonstrates that he too believes that things learned and contributions given along life’s journey are what are most important. It is fortunate for those of us who appreciate extraordinary musical talent and great music, that part of Roger Len Smith’s life journey is currently weaving its way through the hill country of Texas.

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