The Stag & Hunter Hotel (Mayfield, NSW)
Sunday, 3 February 2019 6:00 pm
A born wanderer, Steven Smyth grew up travelling around Australia as the son of ministers. His parents built churches from scratch, and from the age of four years old, he found himself constantly surrounded by music and people making it. With this kind of free-spirited upbringing came the experience of being on stage or in an audience for most of his life. At the age of eight, he commandeered his sister’s guitar and then refused to give it back. Steve confesses to being helped along the way “I had a dozen lessons, but one day the teacher pissed off and left me with the only thing I wanted from him: the songbook for U2’s Joshua Tree.” Through his teens he discovered his musical influences such as Leadbelly, Carol King, Radiohead, Tim Buckley, and Bob Dylan – “The first time I heard Bob Dylan, it was like he hit through the speakers directly to my soul. Bob became my Troubadour dream brother.” It’s these timeless influences that reflect Smyth’s soul-baring sound and lyrics today. At 16, he performed a guitar instrumental of Jeff Buckley’s Grace to an enraptured audience at Vietnam’s first western concert since the 1960’s. In the midst of short stints in bands, Smyth was also working as an apprentice carpenter. It was at 17 when he tapped on the neighbour’s door with a power chord to ask if he could lend a powerpoint. A man who’d just woke up answered the door with guitar in hand. His name was Jack Lowry. Jack was from Oregon, a unique soul that some people are lucky enough to meet once in a lifetime. Jack encouraged Steven to write through the slapping of mosquitos. He taught him to sing with feeling – to mean every word he was singing. “Otherwise, what’s the point?” From that moment on, he found himself constantly travelling and playing music. It was a yearning that seemed so natural and easy. He found a pure existence in performance. Steven Smyth is one of those artists who draws you in even before you’ve heard him perform. There seems to be an energy that clings to him which reaps mystery and a deep, honest passion. And when you see him perform you feel like he’s conveying a million conversations, a million experiences filled with heartache, love, excitement… And he delivers his songs with pure honesty and an unconscious bliss. You can almost hear the churning out of his mind through his antique Remington typewriter. “Music is something I do where I don’t have to pretend. It’s an honest place to be, and that humbles me. And I can’t get enough of that,” Steven Smyth.