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Exclusive Interview with Guitar Virtuoso Gary Dean Smith

How would you classify your music?

Delicious!   That is how I would classify it!

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

It is hard to list 5 “Names” as influences. The names I have list

I write in couple of different styles. So influences by name is a tough one because as I get inspired by someone, it leads me down the trail of that genre to explore more.  So the “Names” I have listed here are the “starting point” for me that lead me down that genre.

My teacher Joe Diorio influenced me greatly to use my creativity and “color across the line”.  He also inspired me to listen to and study Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Miles and the like so that is my jazz influence.

Robben Ford – opened me up to all of the West Coast players.

Lyle Lovett – Influenced and inspired me as a songwriter.  I have several Americana and country releases

Frank Marino – I love that straight ahead Rock and roll blues thing he does

Marvin Gaye – I am a huge fan of soul music.  Marvin Gaye was a genius and that opened me up to explore more and more soul music

What do you want fans to take away from your music?

A feeling that may lighten their burden, at least for a few minutes.   That is what I get from listening and I guess I am trying to contribute.

How is the music scene in your locale/country?

Well…it is all pretty locked up now.  I have been in San Jose for a little over a year.  My first 2 months here I met quite a few players and discovered some nice studios, then the pandemic put a stop to that.

What is the best concert you have been to?

I have many more “favorites” from a “fan point of view”…but my favorite was when I took my 10 year old son to Red Rock Amphiteater to see Santana.  The show was good, But my son lit up with all of the lights and music, and that is a pretty cool introduction to live music for a kid.

What do you like most about performing live?

The excitement of experiencing The collaboration, talent and effort of all of the people working in the band.  When a band is locked in, that is literally “living harmoniously

Is there a song on your latest CD release that stands out as your personal favorite & why?  

Melissa On Fire is a single.  I wrote it for my wife shortly after we met about 9 years ago,   Now I figured everyone else should be so lucky as to get to know her, so I recorded and released it.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

Being locked down has allowed me to take the time to really explore production.  I have worked with Jimmy Haslip, John Macy, Mike Eckart and a lot of other great producers and I like to think I learned a lot from those experiences.    So in this last year I put together a really nice production studio and have started producing my own music.  That is a learning experience.  It will absolutely make you become a better musician if  you are paying attention.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?  

 That is an interesting question.  Had you asked me that question 4 years ago, I would have named the people I have since worked with, had dinner and drinks with.   I have been a big Fan of Jimmy Haslip’s for over 20 years.  Jimmy came to Denver to produce my AWAKENING album.  While we were in the studio, Robben Ford called Jimmy and we all yacked it up a bit on the phone. Jimmy also recently played on a tune that Jeff Lorber and I co-wrote called “Spellbound”.  Jeff Lorber and Gary Novak also played on that tune along with my friend, sax player Jeff Miguel.     So I have met a lot of those people already and feel very fortunate for that. Along with studying with Joe Diorio, and playing on bills with many greats, I feel like I don’t want to push my luck.   Although, having a lunch with Frank Zappa in today’s political climate would be pretty intense.

What’s next for you? 

I have some older Americana recordings I am going to revisit.  Some live performance things I want to look into “punching up” and releasing.       And I am going to take a crack at covering some old school soul tunes.  I love that stuff and doing it right is tough…but I am going to give it a shot!

End of Interview

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