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Josh Smith & the Frost
@ Bunker's, November 29, 1997
By Ann Wickstrom


Josh Smith
Bunkers - November 29, 1997
Photo 1997 by Steve Felling
All rights reserved
To write a review, or not to write a review? That was the question for me after I saw Josh Smith. You see I felt I had been let in on a wonderful secret, and I was afraid to share what I'd seen and heard for my own selfish reasons. You know the story: guitar wizard emerges from parts unknown, plays some precious, magical "I-was-there-when" gigs to smaller crowds, word spreads like wildfire, and before you know it you can hardly get into his shows much less find a place to sit.
But after seeing the small turnout at Josh Smith's November 29 gig at Bunker's in Mpls., I feel a responsibility to help get that wildfire going in this town. It's the least I can do for this incredibly talented young man, and he deserves it. (By the way, he's from the Ft. Lauderdale area).

My first clue as to Josh's staggering talent came before I heard him play. When I found out that Josh Smith & the Frost was a trio, I knew we had to be talking about a confident, commanding, versatile guitar player. I've only seen a handful of contemporary players really pull it off: Jimmy Thackery, Johnny Winter and Warren Haynes come to mind. But the fact that Josh Smith is doing it at 18 tells you which league he's in. He is running with the big dogs and he's headed straight for the front of the pack.

The band roared through their first set like a well-oiled machine, sounding as if they'd already been playing for several hours.

Josh Smith
Bunkers - November 29, 1997
Photo 1997 by Steve Felling
All rights reserved
Mid-way through the first song, I wanted to turn to my companions to see if they were as stunned as I was at the sounds coming from Josh's guitar, yet I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I'm still trying to figure out how someone could be so polished at that age.

Josh and Jimmy Thackery are good friends and the influence was readily apparent, more in the vocal inflections than in the guitar playing. But Josh is equally adept at playing in the style of Stevie Ray, soaring like Clapton, and stinging like Albert Collins. Lately he's been getting into Freddie King, and he did a hard-edged, rockin' version of Sidetracked, if you can imagine that. And mercy, mercy is he fast. He absolutely raced through some of the licks, and not a note was lost in the fury.


Josh Smith
Photo 1997 by Steve Felling
All rights reserved
He played slide, he played with his teeth, he played with one hand while downing a Coke with the other. He even played as he walked out the back door, down 8th Avenue, and back in the front door. Why the relatively small crowd failed to react to any of this is still a mystery to me. I wanted to stand on my chair and yell, "What is the matter with you people? This kid is playing his butt off and you're not even paying attention!" Maybe it just wasn't the right crowd-I- don't know- but it was most bizarre. The rest of the band were top-drawer as well, particularly drummer Al Rich. Very, very tight.

I picked up the band's new CD, TOO DAMN COLD, at the show. I highly recommend it as a good all-around, mostly blues CD with a little rock and swing mixed in. Josh and his father Joel wrote nearly all the tunes. But there is much, much more to Josh Smith than the songs he's recorded and when he returns to town you can see for yourself.




Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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