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Jonah Smith (born 1975 in Syracuse, New York) is an American musician.
He recorded his first album, Industry Rule, in 2000 at engineer Matt Stein's studio in New York. The album was completed in under a week and featured Smith's regular lineup of musicians for the next several years: Marko Djordjevi - drums, Bob Reynolds - sax, Ben Rubin - bass and David Soler - guitar, pedal steel guitar, as well as harmony vocals by Maya Azucena, a frequent guest at his live shows. The sound of the album was a mixture of soul, jazz and country and the material was mostly inspired by Smith's recent move to New York to pursue music. The album was well received by the New York press and soon led to a regular spot at the famed 55 Bar after Smith was discovered by its owner, Queva Lutz. Coinciding with Smith's gaining stature in New York was the band's popularity in Spain due to the influence of guitarist David Soler. Soon Smith and his band were touring regularly in Spain as well as on the East Coast of the United States.
In 2003 after a fair amount of touring Smith returned to the studio to record his followup, Beneath the Underdog, with co-producer Jason Olaine. This album refined Smith's sound a bit further, weaning out most of the jazz influence in favor of a more rootsy rock sound. The lineup of the band, however, remained intact. The album was again well received by critics.
In 2004, Smith entered his song "Tell it to the Mountain" from his album Beneath the Underdog into a songwriting contest held by Relix magazine. The song won and Smith was invited to play at a showcase in New York where he met the owner of Relix, Steve Bernstein. Their relationship continued when Bernstein decided to relaunch Relix Records, a label that had long been dormant. Smith was the first artist signed to the new Relix Records.
In 2006, Relix Records released Jonah Smith, the self-titled "debut". It was produced by Lee Townsend and featured the same lineup as the other two albums with the addition of guests like Garth Hudson of The Band, Carrie Rodriguez and the Mason Brothers. Starting that year and into 2007, Smith embarked on several cross-country tours in the United States as well as an extended tour in Spain. He landed the opening spot for several well-known artists, including Madeleine Peyroux, Little Feat, Martin Sexton, Taj Mahal, the Subdudes, James Hunter, and others. The songs "My Morning Scene" and "When We Say Goodnight" received heavy airplay at many triple A radio stations in the US as well as satellite radio. In early 2007, "My Morning Scene" won in The 6th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Folk/Singer–Songwriter Song. Around this time, guitarist Andy Stack became a regular in his working group. This record, being the first promoted on a national scale, gained Smith a wider audience and landed him a spot at 2007s Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee and the Langerado Festival in South Florida in March 2008.
In 2009 Smith released two records. Lights On was produced by Malcolm Burn. Smith was an early adaptor of the fan-funding method which he used to finance the making of Lights On. This led to an interview and feature in the Huffington Post. This album featured his longtime touring band as well as drummers, Aaron Comess, and Joe Russo. He also released an acoustic record called, Brooklyn Session which was made in one afternoon with Andy Stack and engineer/producer, Teddy Kumpel. The album was made as a stop-gap while, Lights On was being finished but the acoustic version of the song, "World Without Love" became a staple on the Sirius/XM Coffeehouse station.
In 2012 Smith released the eponymous debut album of The Statesmen, a New York supergroup featuring Jonah Smith, Josh Dion, Scott Metzger and Ben Rubin. The record is distributed in Japan through Buffalo Records. He also released his solo follow up, Little Known Cure in August, 2012. The album was again funded by his fans and self-released. It featured his touring band with the addition of drummer Gintas Janusonis, who replaced Djordjevic in 2009 as well as guitarist Doug Wamble who adds resonator guitar on several songs.
- Industry Rule (2001)
- Beneath the Underdog (2003)
- Jonah Smith (2006)
- Brooklyn Session (2008)
- Lights On (2009)
- The Statesmen (2012)
- Little Known Cure (2012)
- In the Kitchen (2013)
- "Skyscraper Blues" (2014)
- Independent Music Awards - 6th Annual Winners Archived May 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- January 25, 2008 interview with Jonah Smith conducted by Dave Beatie