Something big is coming to the area. It’s a strong voice that’s full of soul and sass. Her name is Caroline Smith and she’s bringing her boisterous sound to both the Near Water Concert Series in Green Bay and the Mile of Music festival in Appleton.
I recently interviewed Caroline Smith about her upcoming performances, which she says will have two slightly different arrangements.
“One is with my full band and backup singers, and one is with just me and my upright bass player,” said Smith of her plans.
The first concert is at the Meyer Theatre on July 30 as Smith and her band The Good Night Sleeps open for Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. The second is part of Cory Chisel’s first ever music fest on College Avenue. There, Smith will be playing a feature stage show on August 10 at Anduzzi’s Outdoor Garden. She’ll also play the following day at Houdini Plaza.
Both events promise to showcase Smith’s evolving indie folk rock soul and R&B sound. Plus, if you attend one of the three concerts, you’ll get a sampling of Smith’s new record, which will be released this fall.
“We are finishing up our new record right now, so we’ll play a lot of songs that are new. We’ll probably play half old songs, some from Little Wind, some from the record before Little Wind and half new songs that we are trying to promote right now because we’re going to release the record in October.”
I personally love to see an artist’s progression from one record to the next. Smith says, “This new album is totally me just coming out of my shell and going back to the music I grew up listening to, which is the most exciting thing for me. Our live show is a lot more exciting with a lot more elements going on.”
Smith further revealed that, “Just content wise I feel like I’m older, I’m growing up with each record. This one I’m feeling a little bit more confident to actually use my voice and be a little bit more boisterous and sassy.”
I could sense the passion Smith had recording the new album when talking to her. With the addition of two backup singers, the now six-piece band has changed a lot since Smith’s early days playing coffee shops in her hometown of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
Those beginnings and Smith’s evolution are captured beautifully in Dan Huiting’s documentary My Way Back Home: Caroline Smith.
The film also shows Smith’s strong relationship with her mother and how that propelled her into a career in music.
“When I started playing music and she kind of recognized that I was special when it came to playing and writing music, she really kind of tough loved me into getting serious about being a strong enough of a woman to make yourself a product essentially. You really have to be strong-willed and you have to have a strong backbone to kind of run with some of these people in this industry. And she’s always done a pretty good job at being pretty honest and making me figure things out when I was younger,” stated Smith. “I think if she hadn’t given me those tools or that knowledge I don’t think I’d be where I’m at at all.”
It’s that determination and work ethic that has landed Caroline Smith on some pretty famous stages, including the iconic First Avenue.
When asked about that experience, Smith reminisced, “I totally felt like I was dreaming. It was really really really really exciting. Probably the most exciting thing that’s happened yet in my career, just because when I moved to Minneapolis I would go see all of my favorite bands there. The first time I stood on that stage all I could think of was who stood on that stage before me.”
Smith says she doesn’t mind the sacrifice of touring. It works out really well for her being with her best friends – her bandmates.
“Being on the road is like home away from home. So it doesn’t really affect us that much. If we don’t go on tour for a while we start to get a little restless.”
As we wrapped up the interview I asked Smith about a tweet proclaiming her excitement for Kayne West’s recently released album Yeezus.
“I think it’s perfect. I don’t think he could make a bad record. I don’t think he has it in him. I think it’s overly fantastic. It’s super dark and super heavy, he really molds contemporary music,” said Smith.
Smith also expressed her displeasure with Kayne’s record being leaked before its release.
“For me it’s not so much about the financial side of things, it’s more about respecting an artist,” stated Smith. “When you take that excitement away, you take that excitement of waiting and the anticipation, you kind of lose some of the romanticism of music. With the growth of the Internet and the growth of pirating music, the act of listening to music has become so over consuming. Always consuming really fast and not actually appreciating something in the entirety, just like onto the next thing. So I really try to wait and go buy the record and be active about it.”
While we all anxiously await Caroline Smith’s new album, let’s take a lesson from her book and become active listeners. As I said earlier, you can see Smith perform her new material at both Near Water and the Mile of Music. Don’t let either of these opportunities pass you by.