Making a Scene Presents An Interview with Christine Smith!
Sometimes the greatest treasures are hiding in plain sight. Such is the case with Christine Smith. As a 20 year veteran of rock and roll’s inner circles, she is perhaps best known for her international touring and recording work with Crash Test Dummies, Jesse Malin, Ryan Adams, and the band Marah. She’s also shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Shane McGowan, Amy Grant, Tommy Stinson of The Replacements, Alejandro Escovedo, Chuck Mead, H.R. of Bad Brains, and Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group, just to name a few. Now, in 2019, she’s stepping from the background into the spotlight with her solo album “Meet Me on the Far Side of a Star.”
“In some ways, I think I’ve been writing this album my entire life,” mutters Smith between drags on her cigarette. Classically trained in the Juilliard method, Smith’s youth was filled with a swirling fusion of the popular hits of the 70s, her parents 50s & 60s doo-wop street corner singing, and lessons from an old retired Vaudeville musician. It was an eclectic brew that would set the pattern for a decades long musical journey.
Performing in public by the age of 6, at 19 Smith moved to London with just $60 and a dream of starting her own 80’s influenced post punk band, only to find herself making a living playing jazz standards for over a decade instead. In 1996 she was recruited as musical director for Newsrevue (London’s longest running political satire show) where she became a contributing writer, performer, and eventually co-producer. It wasn’t until the age of 30 when Smith moved back to NYC that her rock-n-roll touring dreams truly came to life.
“I’d been writing songs since I was 14, but in all those years, somehow never found an opportunity to record my own music except on cassette demos at home,” says Smith. Finally, 2006 saw the release of her critically acclaimed first solo album, “Tomorrow Blues” (Phidelity Records) which she recorded as a one woman band.
Every twist and every turn of this uniquely diverse musical saga comes to life in every note of “Meet Me on the Far Side of a Star.” Both instantly familiar and refreshingly different, the album is nine tracks of Great American Songbook craft paired with a deft undercurrent of dark goth cabaret. It’s like listening to George Gershwin, Patti Smith, and Simon Lebon in deep cocktail conversation, their repartee exchanged not in words, but in song.
Written over the span of one year, the album began as an off-hand collaboration with Texas Singer-Songwriter Victor Camozzi after the two discovered a mutual love of 1930s and 40s American classics. When Smith later ventured to Austin, Texas to finish production on both Camozzi’s album and an album for Austin indie-rock favorites The Savage Poor, their writing shifted into high gear. And “Meet Me on the Far Side of a Star” quickly morphed from a conversation, to a collaboration, to an achingly beautiful album.
For the moment, Smith still calls Austin home, playing as part of The Savage Poor, producing Tommy Stinson’s first “Cowboys in the Campfire” album with John Doe of X on bass, and doing session work. But if her new album is any indication, she’ll soon find herself out touring the world again. This time, at the front of the stage.
Produced, recorded and mixed by Christine Smith at Shire Recorders, Austin, TX
Trumpet recorded by Howie Beno at Ruffian Recorders, Brooklyn, NY Mastered by Mark Hallman at Congress House Studio, Austin, TX
Words and Music by Christine Smith (BMI/Rabble Rouser Music) and Victor Camozzi (ASCAP) except “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” written by Smith
Guest Players: Tommy Stinson, Jeff Brown, Nabate Isles, Jenny De Wulf Smith, Alex Moralez, Sonoma Camozzi
Guest Singers: Victor Camozzi, Mike McCoy, Alva Sim, Kat Neko, Brandon Burke