Smokey Hormel

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Smokey Hormel
BornLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresAmericana-, Brazilian-, Caribbean-, and African-styled surf music
Occupation(s)Session guitarist
Associated actsBeck, Bettye Lavette, Tom Waits
WebsiteOfficial site

Smokey Hormel (born circa 1959)[1] is an American guitarist known for his Americana style and working as a session musician with a wide array of performers.

Hormel was born and raised in Los Angeles.[2] As a teenager he studied with Jimmy Wyble, guitarist for Texas Playboys and Benny Goodman.

In the mid-1980s, Hormel played lead guitar with the Radio Ranch Straight Shooters and later joined The Blasters, with whom he toured the US and Europe 1988–1992. At the same time, he formed The Blue Shadows with Lester Butler, performing weekly in West Hollywood's King King club. Throughout the early 1990s, he toured and recorded with John Doe, the pair appearing in the movie Georgia.

In 1996, Hormel joined Beck for his Odelay world tour and played on the albums Mutations, Midnight Vultures, and Sea Change. Two years later, he played with Tom Waits on the Grammy award-winning Mule Variations and was featured on Waits' Get Behind The Mule tour in 1999.

In 2000, Hormel moved to New York City, where he and Miho Hatori formed Smokey & Miho. In 2003, Forro in the Dark was formed with Rob Curto and Mauro Refosco. The group recorded and performed with David Byrne, Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto and Steve Earle. In 2005, Hormel formed Smokey's Secret Family, which plays Brazilian-, Caribbean-, and African-styled surf music; and Smokey's Round-up, a western swing band.

In the early 2000s, Hormel was a primary player on Johnny Cash's final albums, produced by Rick Rubin, which included the Grammy Award-winning cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt".

From 2004 to 2010, Hormel was a composer and guitarist for the Nickelodeon TV cartoon series The Backyardigans. His other film score work includes Be Kind Rewind, The Cowboy and The Frenchman, The Straight Story, Star Maps, Chuck & Buck, Trees Lounge, Lonesome Jim, Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Night Moves, Certain Women, and I'm Not There.

In 2010, Hormel recorded and toured with Norah Jones. They appeared together in the feature film Ted.

In 2012, he rejoined Beck for a tour and the recording of the 2014 Grammy Award-winning Album of the Year, Morning Phase.

Today Hormel plays clubs around New York City with Smokey's Secret Family. Smokey's Round-up plays dances every Wednesday night at Sunny's Bar in Brooklyn.

He has also recorded or performed with Adele, Lee Allen, R. L. Burnside, Jim Carroll, Rosanne Cash, Cibo Matto, Neil Diamond, Bo Diddley, John Doe, Dixie Chicks, Erasmo Carlos, Steve Earle, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Allen Ginsberg, Josh Groban, Marianne Faithfull, Joe Houston, Wanda Jackson, Mick Jagger, David Johansen, K. D. Lang, Al Kooper, Bettye Lavette, Sean Lennon, Chris Martin, The Manhattan Transfer, Patsy Montana, Jennifer Nettles, Beth Orton, Kid Rock, Timothy B Schmit, Joe Strummer, Justin Timberlake, Rufus Wainwright, Tom Waits, Yebba, and Yo La Tengo.


  1. ^ Cohen (2017) quotes Hormel as saying he was "4 or 5 [years old]" when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles was "a big hit on the radio"; the song was released in America in December 1963
  2. ^ How Smokey Hormel Became The Quintessential Session Musician.

External links[edit]

  • Smokey Hormel discography at Discogs Edit this at Wikidata
  • Smokey Hormel at AllMusic
  • Smokey Hormel on IMDb
  • Browne, David (2006-07-30). "Smokey Hormel: This Guitar for Hire, Eccentrics Preferred". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  • "Guitarist to the Stars Smokey Hormel Gets Big Tones From Vintage Gibson Hollowbodies and Amps". Gibson. 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2015-11-11.