Smokey Hormel is a session guitarist who has recorded with Adele, Beck, R. L. Burnside, Johnny Cash, Cibo Matto, Neil Diamond, John Doe, the Dixie Chicks, Erasmo Carlos, Steve Earle, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Josh Groban, Marianne Faithfull, Wanda Jackson, Mick Jagger, K. D. Lang, Sean Lennon, Jennifer Nettles, Beth Orton, Kid Rock, Joe Strummer, Justin Timberlake, Rufus Wainwright, and Tom Waits.
Hormel was born and raised in Los Angeles. Smokey Hormel is his given name - his great-grandfather George Hormel started the Hormel Foods Corporation and his grandfather Jay Hormel invented Spam. As a teenager he studied with the great Texas Playboys, and Benny Goodman guitarist, Jimmy Wyble.
In the mid-1980s, he played lead guitar with the Radio Ranch Straight Shooters and later joined The Blasters, with whom he toured the US and Europe from 1988 until 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 90s, he toured and recorded with John Doe, the two of them appearing together in the movie Georgia.
In 1996, He joined Beck for his Odelay world tour and played on his albums Mutations, Midnight Vultures and Sea Change. Two years later, he played with Tom Waits on his Grammy award winning Mule Variations and was featured on his 1999 Get Behind The Mule tour.
In 2000, he moved to New York City, where he formed Smokey & Miho (2000) with Miho Hatori; and later Forro in the Dark (2003) with Rob Curto and Mauro Refosco, which recorded and performed with David Byrne, Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto and Steve Earle;. In 2005, he formed Smokey's Secret Family, which plays Brazilian, Caribbean, African surf music; and Smokey's Round-up, a western swing band.
From 2004 to 2010, he was a guitarist and composer for the Nickelodeon TV cartoon series The Backyardigans. Hormel's 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, Smokey 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 he plays in clubs around New York City with Smokey's Secret Family.
His western swing band, Smokey's Round-up, plays dances every wednesday night at Sunny's Bar in Brooklyn.
- "How Smokey Hormel Became The Quintessential Session Musician". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
- Official site
- Smokey Hormel discography at Discogs
- 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.