Smokey Hormel's guitar can be heard on albums by greats such as Johnny Cash, Beck, Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, John Doe, Joe Strummer, as well as on numerous film and telelvison scores. His Western Swing band Smokey's Roundup is a popular draw in the New York City area. The 2009 release of his own Smokey's Secret Family CD is a joyful celebration of his favorite African music of the 50s and 60s.
Smokey Hormel is an LA native who began playing guitar as a child and studied with the great Bob Wills guitarist Jimmy Wyble as a teenager. After a brief interlude studying acting in New York City he returned to Los Angeles and fell in with a group of musicians playing Western Swing music and became a member of the Radio Ranch Straight Shooters. The band opened for the likes of X and the Blasters, and soon Smokey was asked to replace guitar great Hollywood Fats in the Blasters. For four years Smokey toured the world in the Blasters alongside his mentor New Orleans tenor sax legend Lee Allen. In 1989 he started underground LA blues phenomenon the Blue Shadows (later the Red Devils) with harp player Lester Butler. Their celebrated weekly gigs at LA’s King King Club caught the attention of Mick Jagger and producer Rick Rubin, who hired the band to back up Jagger in the studio.
Smokey later became a key player on numerous Rick Rubin produced recordings. He played guitar on Johnny Cash’s "Hurt" from the Grammy winning "American 4: When the Man Comes Around" as well as on Cash’s "American 5 : A Hundred Highways", Neil Diamond’s "Home Before Dark" and "Twelve Songs", Justin Timberlake’s "Future Sex/Love Sounds", and the Dixie Chicks’ "Taking the Long Way".
In 1996 Smokey joined Beck's band for the acclaimed "Odelay" tour. Smokey's guitar made its mark on Beck’s Grammy winning "Mutations", as well as the "Midnight Vultures" and "Sea Change" albums, and their subsquent tours. In 1998 Tom Waits enlisted Smokey for an LA concert and an appearance on VH1’s Storytellers. Smokey joined Waits again for the recording of the 1999 "Mule Variations" album and subsequently played on the highly acclaimed "Get Behind The Mule" tour.
Relocating to New York City in the late 90s, Smokey played with both Sean Lennon and Cibo Matto and then formed a Bossa Nova duo with Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori. Under the name Smokey and Miho they released two EPs that celebrated the music of Brazilian songwriter and guitarist Baden Powell, and played frequent live shows in New York City. In 2003 Smokey and percussionist Mauro Refosco formed Forro In the Dark, dedicated to the raucous Brazilian cowboy music of Bahian legend Luis Gonzaga and featuring Smokey’s African flavored baritone guitar playing. Forro in the Dark played regularly in New York City and released two CDs before Smokey parted ways with them in 2007.
Smokey has played on many film and television scores and is currently a regular player and occasional composer on the Nickolodeon hit children’s television series "The Backyardigans". Besides being in-demand in the studio in both New York and Los Angeles, he also plays live shows regularly in the New York City area. Visit his website http://www.smokeyhormel.com for a complete discography, photos, videos, links, and further information.