The country-blues sounds of a smooth National slide guitar, slappin’ doghouse bass and wailing harmonica with soulful vocals comes drifting off the back porch, filling the dense evening air...FELONIUS SMITH must be in town!
Drawing his inspiration from the songs and styles of artists like Tampa Red and Fred McDowell, Jeff “Felonius” Smith’s slippery slide and snappy finger picking guitar style transports one back some 80 years, relaxing on a river bank in southern Mississippi.
Jeff Gagliardi’s soulful harmonica interplay with Felonius brings to mind the synchronous musical union of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
Rounding out the trio is Scott Johnson, whose warm yet percussive approach to his upright bass provides the perfect backbeat for the group’s old-time, traditional sound.
“ABOUT AS DOWN-HOME as they come,…FELONIUS SMITH demonstrates a tremendous familiarity with that old-fashioned toe-tapping music culled from last century's acoustic Piedmont blues, country blues, Delta, ragtime, gospel and folk…With his standout finger-picking style and slide guitar expertise, Jeff "FELONIUS SMITH" makes his playing seem as easy as a lazy afternoon on the front porch of some old Smoky Mountain retreat.” Sarah Quelland, San Jose Metro
Felonius Smith’s third CD release, "Hoolay Moolay", is his first since making his home in Colorado. It features toe-tappin’ arrangements of songs by Bukka White, Tampa Red, Fred McDowell, and Blind Willie McTell, as well as several Felonius Smith originals.
Recorded around two stereo-placed microphones, "Hoolay Moolay" achieves the natural, honest sound of a small acoustic combo playing right in your living room! It was mixed by Butch Hause (Norman Blake, Peter Rowan) and mastered by two-time Grammy winner David Glasser.
Fascinated by old blues recordings from the 1920’s and 30’s, Felonius Smith creates a powerful sound using National resonator guitars, reminiscent of the colorful tones of the great Southern bottleneck blues players.
After having played Dobro lap slide guitar for 12 years, Felonius experimented with bottleneck style on a metal body National guitar. He was immediately taken by its unique, bluesy tone which piqued his hunger to learn all that he could about the old slide guitar blues music. Under Bob Brozman, the modern day King of the National Guitar, Felonius studied slide guitar and rhythm. The songs and styles of historic blues artists like Tampa Red, Robert Johnson and Mississippi Fred McDowell provide his inspiration. Felonius Smith’s use of polyrhythmic, percussive and unusual finger picking techniques invokes intrigue in his captivated audiences.
Felonius Smith (a.k.a. Jeff Smith) performed his brand of acoustic Roots-Of-The-Blues music in his native San Francisco Bay Area for over 15 years – and in January 2006, he brought his family and musical talents to Boulder, Colorado. For more than 25 years he has performed professionally and currently performs playing bottleneck slide guitar, lap slide guitar, 6-string, 12-string, and mandolin. He also has more than 15 years of experience as a drummer and has recorded and performed in a wide variety of musical genres – including Blues, Rock, Folk, Bluegrass, Celtic, Reggae, and Afro-beat. His versatility and talent has earned him a growing reputation as an accomplished sideman for local singer-songwriters’ performances and recordings – including recordings by Jayme Kelly Curtis, Ellen Silva, and Karen Stern.
“The pre-World War II ‘country blues’ was exciting in its often fun, light hearted lyrics and variety of styles and grooves, and I try to offer my audience that same fun, excitement and variety” says Felonius. “Besides being fun and challenging music to play, I like to surprise listeners with rare, unheard gems and keep this traditional music alive in the hearts of blues and American roots music fans”