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Darden Smith

A singer and songwriter whose music fuses country, folk, rock, and blues with a literate but unpretentious lyrical perspective, Darden Smith was born in Brenham, Texas on March 11, 1962. Smith first became interested in music after being swayed by the power of the pipe organ at church, as well as seeing country bands playing at local dances. Smith started taking guitar lessons when he was in third grade, and was writing songs when he was ten years old. As a teenager, he fell under the sway of Texas singer/songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, and while attending college in Austin, his tastes expanded to embrace new wave songwriters such as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Chrissie Hynde, as well as blues and reggae.

Smith began playing regularly in and around Austin, both on his own and as part of a bluegrass band called the Ramblers. In time, Smith developed a significant local following, and in 1986, he recorded his debut album, Native Soil, which included guest appearances from Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, and Joe Ely. Originally released on Smith's own Redi-Mix label, Native Soil was soon picked up for release by the noted Texas independent label Watermelon Records, and the album brought Smith to the attention of Epic, who signed him to a record deal. Three songs from Native Soil reappeared on Smith's self-titled Epic debut, which produced two minor hit singles, "Little Maggie" and "Day After Tomorrow." But while Epic chose to market Smith as a country act, his music began became more introspective as his songwriting matured, and in 1989, he released a collaborative album with British songwriter Boo Hewerdine, Evidence.

In time, Epic handed Smith over to the pop music division of their sibling label Columbia Records, and his next two albums, 1990's Trouble No More, and 1993's Little Victories, won good press, while the song "Loving Arms" scraped the lower levels of the Top 100 singles charts. Uncertain of how to market Smith, Columbia dropped him from their roster, and in 1996 he released Deep Fantastic Blue through the independent Plump Records imprint. In 2000, Smith re-recorded a handful of his best-known songs for the album Extra Extra, and 2002 saw the release of Sunflower, his first album for Dualtone Music. Smith cut two more albums for Dualtone, 2004's Circo and 2005's Field of Crows, followed by a limited-edition live album, 2006's Ojo. Ojo was issued by Smith's own Darden Records, which also issued a studio album, 2010's Marathon, and a 2009 compilation, After All This Time (The Best Of). Artist-friendly independent label Compass Records issued 2013's Love Calling, and Smith slated his next album, Everything, for an April 2017 release. Everything featured guest appearances from Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kelly Willis, David Mansfield, Charlie Sexton, and Roscoe Beck. In addition to his work as a songwriter and performer, Smith is also part of several creative outreach programs. Founded by Smith in 2001, the Be an Artist Program was designed to encourage creative expression among young people at risk. Smith is also one of the founders of SongwritingWith:Soldiers, in which gifted songwriters work with soldiers and veterans to use music as a means of dealing with the trauma of combat. And he's also lent his talents to academic and private organizations as part of programs designed to bolster creative thinking. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Love Calling

1. Angel Flight

2. Seven Wonders

3. Mine Till Morning

4. Better Now

5. Favorite Way

6. Love Calling

7. Distracted

8. Reason To Live

9. I Smell Smoke

10. Medicine Wheel

11. Baltimore

13. Love Calling

x

Track List: Marathon

1. Marathon

2. Sierra Diablo

3. Bull By The Horns

4. Vertigo

5. Don't It Go To Show

6. Make It Back To You

7. Mortal Coil

8. Marathon Sky

9. Truth Of The Rooster

10. That Water

11. Over My Beating Heart

12. Escalator

13. 75 Miles Of Nothing

14. Tinaja

15. No One Gets Out Of Here

x

Track List: Ojo

1. Satellite

2. Stronger

3. Daydream

4. Skin

5. $2 Novels

6. Little Maggie

7. Night Riders Lament

8. Clatter And Roll

9. That Water

10. What Are We Gonna Do

11. Days On End / Waiting In Vain

12. Perfect Moment

13. Swept Away

14. Trouble No More

15. All Around You

x

Track List: Field Of Crows

1. Talk Me Down

2. Mary

3. Golden Age

4. Field Of Crows

5. Any Way

6. Wide Open

7. Spinning Wheel

8. Satisfied

9. It Takes Two

10. Fight For Love

11. Boy

12. All That I Wanted

x

Track List: Circo

1. What Are We Gonna Do

2. Make Love So Hard

3. Shooting Star

4. Turning To You

5. One Hundred Ways

6. Mill Creek

7. Late Train To London

8. Hands On The Wheel

9. God Loves A River

10. Rise

11. All Around You

x

Track List: Sunflower

1. Perfect Moment

2. Satellite

3. Stronger

4. After All This Time

5. Closer To You

6. Daydream

7. Dreams Don't Lie

8. Shadow

9. 'Till It Bled

10. Easier Said Than Done

11. New Gospel

12. Swept Away

x

Track List: Extra Extra

1. Hunger

2. Never Let A Day Go By

3. Frankie & Sue

4. Midnight Train

5. Fall Apart At The Seams

6. Levee Song

7. Love Me Like A Soldier

8. Bottom Of A Deep Well

9. First Day Of The Sun

10. Little Victories

11. Talk To Me

12. Loving Arms

x

Track List: Deep Fantastic Blue

1. First Day Of The Sun

2. Broken Branches

3. Running Kind

4. Skin

5. Silver & Gold

6. Drowning Man

7. Different Train

8. Chariots

9. Stop Talking

10. Hunger

x

Track List: Little Victories

1. Place In The Sun

2. Loving Arms

3. Little Victories

4. Love Left Town

5. Hole In The River

6. Dream Intro

7. Dream's A Dream

8. Precious Time

9. Days On End

10. Levee Song

11. Only One Dream

x

Track List: Darden Smith

1. Two Dollar Novels

2. Want You By My Side

3. Love Me Like A Soldier

4. Little Maggie

7. Talk To Me

8. Coldest Winter

10. Driving Rain

x

Track List: Native Soil

1. Bus Stop Bench

2. Red Sky

3. Little Maggie

4. Veteran's Day

5. Sticks & Stones

6. Keep An Open Mind

7. Wild West Show

8. Painter's Song

9. Two Dollar Novels

10. God's Will

11. Clatter & Roll

Comments

Report as inappropriate
littsme
I was saw D when he was 18 yrs old - have followed him ever since - an unappreciate d american treasure.
Report as inappropriate
born in 1962 in Brenham Tx
Report as inappropriate
bbarrows
Excellent songwriter and story teller. I contacted Darden once to inquire about songwriting and he actually emailed me some suggestions on how to write songs and the process and inspirtation . He played in my neighborhood one summer night and everyone was amazed who this man was and loved his songs and live concert. I feel he is one of the best and under rated song writers today. Darden is always welcome back to play and I consider him my friend..
Report as inappropriate
ldfrommi
I first heard Darden Smith live at the Livery in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was a snowy winter's night and there was just a handful of people in the bar. Darden played acoustically for a good two hours. Though I'd never heard his music before I connected with every song. One of the best live shows I've ever attended. I keep waiting for him to travel back up this way but I'd make a special trip to hear him again somewhere else.
Report as inappropriate
The first time I saw Darden was at the Little Wheel in Dripping Springs around 1987 (?). He opened for Joe Ely that night. I went back stage and we chatted for a bit. From that point on, I was a big fan. He writes great songs and is an excellent guitar player. I also saw him at an Urban Campfire show in the early 90's in San Antonio--tha t was an awesome night. I can't recommend him and his music highly enough.
Report as inappropriate
tclarkemobil e
Trouble No More..CD..ma n i don't skip a track!! GREAT!!
Report as inappropriate
john2292
Some big fans of his pooled some money to get him to play a birthday party. He was so great and gave us insights as to why he wrote some of his songs. He also hung out with us and told jokes with us in the kitchen, and acted as if he had been our friend for 20 years. Quality person.
Report as inappropriate
I've seen Darden live twice and it has been too long ago. I became a fan when he played Fan Fair in Nashville in 1988. Went right out after the show to find an recording. A few years later, my wife and I were in San Antonio and happen to find out about a little thing called Urban Campfires, a local group of people who would once per month invite an artist in to perform at a "potluck" dinner. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings, Darden with about 60 other people and plenty of good food.
Report as inappropriate
Such a big fan. Saw him play several times, and he just has this voice that brings you in and invites you to coffee.
Report as inappropriate
Darden is great. He looks nothing like the photo these days!

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