Corey Smith Band returns to familiar crowd
A&E interview reveals Smith is no stranger to college town audiences
“Artists are supposed to hold a mirror to themselves and their society so we can evaluate ourselves. In country music, that mirror has really been distorted by a need for short-term revenue.”
Georgia-based country singer Corey Smith and his band, who all have a long tradition of Charlottesville performances, returned Friday night to put on a show for their strong University fanbase. Arts & Entertainment had the opportunity to talk with Corey ahead of the show to find out what was in store at Jefferson Theatre and hear about his upcoming album release.
Arts & Entertainment: What gets you excited about returning to Charlottesville to perform, and what will your interaction with Charlottesville’s audience look like?
Corey Smith: I’ve actually been playing in Charlottesville since the Satellite Ballroom existed, so I’m familiar with [the] town and people. My goal is just to try to relax and have fun — typically, when I’m having fun, that’s what’s happening in the audience. On stage, I find myself pondering the next word, the next chord or the next transition to produce the best sound. From there, my troubles start to fade away and the audience can enjoy the performance.
AE: You grew up in Jackson County, Ga. How has your background influenced your music?
CS: Well, I actually still live in the same kind of area — this has kept me grounded and humble. [Growing up in a town like this] has allowed me to stay close to my roots. Being immersed in my normal life, I’m able to have a different perspective [of] what “country music” means than what people in Nashville perpetuate this image to be. Their [perspective] is different because they’re removed from it. Artists are supposed to hold a mirror to themselves and their society so we can evaluate ourselves. In country music, that mirror has really been distorted by a need for short-term revenue. I feel like [by living here], I am in a position to report what is actually happening.
AE: How have you developed your style as an atypical country artist?
CS: I was never really worried about general [style] or had the need to fit some kind of mold. I used to be a high school teacher and just made music because it made me happy. I never thought, “Is this country? Is this rock? Is this something that can be on the radio?” That [mindset] led me to where I am now — selling records and competing in the industry. I didn’t really set out to be this way, but it’s the path that life’s led me down.
AE: What is in store for the Corey Smith Band with your upcoming album release and current tour?
CS: I have self-produced all of my previous albums, but I have turned over production to someone else (Keith Stegall) for my upcoming album. This is definitely my most ambitious project — it’s over two years in the making. The advantages of working with somebody like Keith has allowed me to focus on what I do best: arriving and performing in the studio. Keith gave me a tremendous amount of confidence, putting his trust in me to know what I’m doing. This made it a lot more fun and less stressful.