To the Four Directions
'I don't know who this Johnsmith guy is. But after his album crossed my desk I feel like I do. It's heartfelt, well-written songs casually slipped into my CD player and didn't want to leave. Smith wrote or co-wrote all of this collection's dozen songs. They mirror life, and are sung by a voice so comfortable with them that they seem like old friends' stories that you've lived too. They are framed by simple, well-played music from a supporting cast that includes Michael Lille (acoustic guitars), Seth Farber (accordion, electric piano, organ, and piano), David Mansfield (violin and dobro), Michael Visceglia (bass), and Dean Sharp (drums). Gotta note the tasteful back-up vocals by Erin Kamler, Eugene Ruffolo, and Liz Queler, too. I do know this about Johnsmith . . . he's a guy who's made a great DIY disc, and whose songs deserve to find a wider audience through (and because of) it.' - John Porter, The Performing Songwriter --------------- 'I want to live my life like I mean it.' With this one line of lyric from his song, 'No Turning Back,' singer/songwriter Johnsmith has distilled his commitment to writing and performing songs that matter, songs that speak to the heart. In these times when so much popular music is a transient experience, John's songs plant their roots deep in the soul. He focuses on the things that make up the big picture for us all - in his words, 'family, parents, children, relationships and the spiritual. I hope my music has an overall optimistic, upbeat feeling.' Born in Iowa, raised in a large family of ten kids, John got the music bug early. 'I drove my mother crazy when I was little,' he laughs. 'I sat in the rocking chair for hours and made up songs, and everyday when I walked home from school, I would sing at the top of my lungs. While in high school, John found a more appropriate outlet for his singing in an R & B band. At the same time, he was absorbing the sounds of the great singer/songwriters of the time - Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne. This all led up to the turning point in college when he penned his first song. 'I'd been playing other people's music, but it just didn't feel right,' he recalls. 'Then when I wrote my first song, it felt really good, like something that wasn't judged or compared to anyone else.' Since that time, he has forged his influences and passion for music into a sound all his own: powered by a guitar style that swings from driving, rhythmic grooves to softer open-tuned finger-picking, laying a solid foundation for his clear, soulful singing. The sound of his voice is warm and friendly, and his gift for incisive musical storytelling can move listeners to both tears and laughter. A winner of the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Award and a perennial finalist at Telluride's Troubadour competition, Smith has performed both as a solo act and half of the acclaimed duo Runaway at clubs and coffeehouses around the country. Though his heavy touring schedule keeps him on the road for half the year and separates him from his home in Wisconsin, Smith reflects, 'I've made a great family across the country. People often approach me after shows, and those personal connections are the most fulfilling part of this biz.' It's John's ability to connect with listeners, both through his songwriting and performing, that has consistently made him sought after. 'I always try to remind myself before I perform,' John says, 'you've got these songs, you love to sing and people want to open their hearts if they feel your heart is open.' John currently has four recordings including 'To The Four directions', 'Hole in the Clouds,' and two recordings with the duo Runaway. --------------- 'When I first heard John Smith my attention was captured by his sweet, earthy voice and fine craftsmanship, but what drew me in was his heart. It's clear that he's lived the pain in his songs and that his optimism is hope born of wisdom. That's a rare thing and a gift to all who hear him.' -Tom Kimmel 'John Smith's songs always move me. They make me laugh, cry, dance or just sing along. He is one of the most consistent writers of quality songs that I've ever met.' Lydia Hutchinson, The Performing Songwriter.
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