June 22, 2015

Concert #747 - Smooth Hound Smith at McCabe's Guitar Shop (June 20, 2015)

Self-described as an "American roots duo", Smooth Hound Smith consists of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zack Smith and vocalist Caitlin Doyle, the same attractive singer whom I have seen a few times before, when she was with the Dustbowl Revival. The duo's music is a mix of a lot of things, so in the absence of a single word that can adequately describe their repertoire, I will use the term "American roots music", a category that is wide enough to cover pretty much everything they played at McCabe's last Saturday night

About 120 folks showed up to see the duo in action. It was an interesting crowd, with the usual helping of older fans, the kind you often see at McCabe's, but also quite a few youngsters.

With complementing skills, Zack and Caitlin put on a great show that had plenty of variety, good humor and outstanding musicianship. Even though I was unfamiliar with their music, my mind did not wander away from the proceedings, not even for a second and I was struck by how well-balanced their act was, with neither of them attempting to steal the spotlight or upstage the other.

Zack Smith & Caitlin Doyle at McCabe's
Zack Smith & Caitlin Doyle at McCabe's
Clocking in at one-hour-and-fifteen-minutes, Zack and Caitlin's set was dominated by what I assume were their own compositions and they all sounded good. But they played a few covers as well, the ones I recognized were the classic "Hi-Heel Sneakers", Nina Simone's "Be My Husband" and Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around With Jim". Zack offered a free CD to anyone who could name the composer of "Hi-Heel Sneakers", but no one came up with the name. By the way, the correct answer is Tommy Tucker, and thank you, Google, for knowing it all.

The set list
The three covers sounded great, especially the Jim Croce number - instead of following the original arrangement, Zack & Caitlin reworked this gem of a song to make it their own. Other songs that caught my ear: "California Sway", "Stop-Gap Woman Blues" and "Sweet Tennessee Honey".

A few things stayed with me for many hours after the show: Zack's guitar-playing skills, Caitlin's singing voice and, most of all, her irresistible smile. I always liked her contribution to the success of the Dustbowl Revival, but now that she is part of a duo, her many talents are far more apparent. Great green dress, too!

Caitlin Doyle having fun at McCabe's
Zack Smith at McCabe's
Caitlin Doyle at McCabe's
Zack Smith playing the banjo at McCabe's
The end of the show
The evening kicked off with six songs delivered by Matt Bradford, a singer-songwriter of some promise. Except for one up-tempo number, everything Matt played was slow and, at first blush, sounded a bit monotonous. But he impressed me quite a bit with his superior dobro playing skills, especially on "Ain't Ready To Stop".

Matt Bradford at McCabe's
The stage
Smooth Hound Smith merchandise

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