Sonny Smith (musician)
Life and work
Smith began playing blues piano in bars when he was nineteen years old. Skipping between the Rocky Mountains of Denver, San Francisco, and Central America, he began to write original songs, short stories and plays. Smith’s travels in Central America inspired his narrative approach and original style of folk music.
In 2003, Smith was commissioned by Watchword literary magazine to make a CD of one-act plays delivered as songs. This project led Smith in a new direction, incorporating theatre and dialogue into his evolving approach to music. At the Headlands Center for the Arts, he was awarded a residency in May 2005 to create a feature-length musical, The Dangerous Stranger, which included guest performers such as folk singer Jolie Holland, local singer Peggy Honeywell (artist Clare Rojas), Miranda July, and set designer Daniel Tierney.
He wrote his last album, Antenna to the Afterworld, based on some paranormal experiences he had.
For a 2010 project called 100 Records, first exhibited at Gallery 16 in San Francisco and later at Cinders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Smith invited 100 artists to produce artwork for the record covers of fictional bands. Smith concocted the personas of all 100 fictitious bands, then wrote and recorded two hundred songs (the A side and B side) for each. Smith displayed all the original album artwork as well as a jukebox that plays all two hundred songs recorded by Sonny Smith and other musicians. Artists who participated in the project include Reed Anderson, Alika Cooper, Chris Duncan, Harrell Fletcher, Jo Jackson, Chris Johanson, Tucker Nichols, Ed Ruscha, Paul Wackers and William T. Wiley.
- Who's The Monster...You Or Me? (Self-released 2000)
- This Is My Story, This Is My Song (Jackpine Social Club 2002)
- Sordid Tales of Love and Woe (Self-released 2003)
- One Act Plays (self-released 2005)
- Fruitvale (Belle Sound 2007)
- Tomorrow is Alright (LP Soft Abuse / Secret Seven 2009; CD Fat Possum 2010)
- Hit After Hit (Fat Possum 2011)
- Longtime Companion (Polyvinyl Record Co. 2012)
- Antenna to the Afterworld (Polyvinyl Record Co. 2013)
- Talent Night at the Ashram (Polyvinyl Record Co. 2015)
- Moods Baby Moods (Polyvinyl Record Co. 2016)
Singles and EPs
- "Love & Death" 7" + comic book (Soft Abuse 2009)
- "Broom & Dustpan" 7" (Home Skillet 2009)
- "The Hypnotist" 7" (Future Stress 2010)
- 100 Records CD/box Volume 1 (Gallery 16 2010)
- 100 Records Volume 2: I Miss The Jams (Turn Up Records 2010)
- "Brooklyn based Music Blog: Album Review : Sonny & The Sunsets - Antenna to the Afterworld (Indie Pop)". Stillinrock.com. 2004-02-26. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- Rocha, Alexandra. "100 Records: Project turns on fictional jackets". San Francisco Chronicle. April 8, 2010.
- Gottschalk, Kurt. "The 100 Fake Bands of Sonny Smith". Village Voice. August 11, 2010.