Brian Smalley grew up in a military family; by the time he was eighteen, he had moved over twenty times. Smalley’s father played accordion, and his brother piano, and so he acquired his first guitar at the age of nine, and it became his best friend. Smalley’s music includes multiple genres. His primary guitar influences include Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed; and flat-pickers Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Tony Rice. Smalley has seized upon Americana and New-grass to create his own unique music.
Now living in Florida, Smalley uses his imagination to bastardize different musical styles and create a screenplay upon which he builds. He calls his albums acoustic novels and develops vivid characters and situations. Jacksonville Florida’s newspaper, The Times-Union, named his album “Chicken Pigs”, about Civil War era Florida, the “Best Florida Folk CD of 2013”. A follow-up acoustic novel “KEY”, set in Key West, tells the story of Painter Kellet & Compass Rose.
Smalley has played all over the Southeast including The Gamble Rogers Folk Fest, The Sarasota Folk Festival, and The Farm To Family Full Moon Concert Series. “Chosen” is Smalley’s seventh album and also the fictional sister city to the sugar mill town of Belle Glade, Florida which sits on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. The lake flows into many canals one of them being the Hillsboro. The story is narrated by the fictional Bobby Anchor and his friends, the eighty-year-old slumlord Jabe and his wife McKenna Brown. In one of Jabe’s tenements lives Pharah, a young girl, who came from Haiti in the early 1960’s. Another Smalley character is the chainsmokin’ puffer Caleb whose father Amos was Belle Glade’s deputy sheriff. The songs that make up the story are structured like an opera.
Each of the characters is played by a different singer. Bobby Anchor is played by Smalley. Other singers include Grant Peeples, Lis Williamson, Sam Pacetti and Marianne Lerbs. The Orchestra includes Smalley on guitar, Tony Macaluso on bass, Christian Ward and Jonathan Hodge on fiddle, and Lon Williamson on baritone guitar, mandolin and bass. The songs are scenes in the play and advance the story: “Cuttin’ The Cane”; “The Hillsboro” and “He’d Talk About Mango” are just some of the chapters.
All of Smalley’s albums or acoustic novels, as he likes to call them, are recorded at his home studio in Apopka. The album is an ambitious undertaking and will certainly entertain you. Check out this new offering from Smalley available at BrianSmalley.com