Randy Smith & Friends, Live At Next Stage, July 7,2012
Cider Magazine August, 2012
PUTNEY, VT. - I had never been to Putney’s Next Stage before… and shame on me, because what a great local venue this is! What made my first visit even better was seeing Randy Smith (formerly of Vermont rockers, 8084) “and friends” perform a dynamic set of Randy originals, 8084 classics and a couple interesting covers mixed in.
Photos by Joe Milliken
A long-time Vermonter who moved to North Carolina a couple years ago, Randy recently returned to the Green Mountain state for a few 8084 reunion shows. However, on this night, he brought together some old friends and a couple new ones, which created an interesting treatment on both his solo songs, and a couple 8084 classics as well. The “friends” lineup featured 8084 alumni Gary Spaulding on drums and percussion and Roy Brown on bass, as well as Rich Abel on guitar and Kenny Butler on violin.
The set was dynamic, ranging from acoustic-driven numbers from Randy’s Bittersweet solo CD such as “All My Life,” “Cowboys” and the title track, to the heart-felt ballad “Savannah’s Song,” to a couple fantastic takes on the 8084 classics “All Right” and “Too Late For Love,” the latter of which featured a cool, Latin-vibe which literally gave this writer a chill! And let’s not forget a spot-on version of the Kansas classic “Dust In The Wind,” a seemingly obvious choice as the violinist Butler laid it down with style and grace.
Randy’s songs are so genuine and his lyrics run the gamut of emotions, which shines through not only in his vocals, but overall performance. He is clearly having a ball during the upbeat and rockin’ numbers, sincere and even emotional when singing deeper, thought-provoking songs. Case-in-point - having a tear in his eye after performing the aforementioned “Savannah’s Song,” which was written for his daughter.
What made this show even more impressive? The fact that Randy announced early in the performance that this upstart lineup had a mere two rehearsals leading up to the show, which was astounding to comprehend as I listened to the tight, pristine sound the band put forth to an enthusiastic audience. My guess is that to a certain extent, it takes a leap of faith to pull off such an intimate performance without much time to prepare, but Randy and friends pulled off without a hitch… in fact, with flying colors!
I recently heard through the grapevine that Randy plans to make another trip to Vermont later in the year for a couple more solo shows. My suggestion would be to stay on the lookout for the dates because it will be well worth your efforts to catch the next show… I’ll surely be there!