“When I was growing up, I used to say to my uncle, ‘tell me a story with your guitar’.”
By Jeanette Arsenault
Smithpickins is Matt Smith’s music persona and it perfectly describes his guitar, banjo and mandolin style. Whether roots, blues, or world music, his fingerstyle and flatpicking have earned him a lot of fans. And, rightfully so. It’s not just his playing that catches your ear, it’s also his unique singing voice in a wide range of genres including rock, country, bluegrass, ragtime, traditional blues, roots and contemporary songs.
His sincerity and purity of tone cut to the core of the lyrics. And let’s not forget to mention, he also plays harmonica and a Greek instrument called a baglamas. He sings and plays traditional tunes, his own original music and has shared the stage with Canadian musical icons such as Ken Whiteley, Downchild Blues Band, Suzie Vinnick and Fred Eaglesmith, to name a few. Memorable musical moments include playing mandolin & slide guitar with world music group Galitcha, and opening for Tower of Power, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Eric Burden and the Animals.
Born in Belleville, Smith was greatly influenced by his uncles who played guitar and taught him how to tell a story through music. Some of his fondest memories and greatest influences include watching live performances of greats like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Winter, Carlos Santana and others and he remembers feeling their ‘guitar story’. These experiences changed how he played his own music and are what he brought to the stage in some of his own performances with Harry Manx, Ken Hamm, Ian Tamblyn, Kuljit Sodhi, Bill Maracle, Dave Finkle, Rob Huffman, and Vitas Slapkauskas, to name just a few. Having played many solo performances, he is keen to play in duos and groups to have more communication and wider influences. His best advice to up and coming players is to play lots, do your homework, and jam with as many people as you can – especially those with abilities that challenge you.
Whether as a solo performer or band member, his sound is buried deep in the blues and incorporates elements of all the musical styles he loves to play – from rock to country, bluegrass to ragtime – to create a multi-cultural roots sound that is uniquely Canadian and recognizably Matt Smith. Smith says that being a family man brings maturity and confidence to his music. He looks forward to a future filled with musical opportunities to grow his musical story and expand his repertoire with musicians who will continue to push him to strive to be his best.
Find him on Facebook and go out to support live music because #livemusicmatters.