Manage episode 281299914 series 2761099
Though he holds a British passport and is an inductee of the British Blues Hall of Fame, Matt Schofield has been making his mark globally as one of the top players in the new class of six string wunderkinds.
The Los Angeles Daily News wrote, In Schofield, the UK has produced the best Blues guitarist from any country in decades head and shoulders above the herd, while Guitar & Bass Magazine rated him in the top ten British blues guitarists of all time ranking him with icons Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
Born in the industrial city of Manchester and raised amongst the rolling hills and locked in time Cotswolds, Schofield began playing guitar at the age of 12.
My dad relocated to America, but before he left he gave me a BB King video. I watched it before school every day; it was three or four tracks from a concert. Later, when I was in California with my father, he showed me BB King with Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan on video.
It was like; Ive got to do this. Theres something about the way the three of them were jamming. B.B. really was majestic. As an 11-or 12-year-old watching him, I was mesmerized but didnt think there was any way I could ever do that. It was too special. But when I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan playing with him, I thought maybe I could. Stevie made it seem accessible to people. I taught myself, working my way through my Dads great blues record collection. I did my first gig age 13, and Ive been doing it ever since.
At age 18 he left the countryside and moved to London. There, as a sideman, he was able to hone his skills as backing a great variety of experienced and well known artists of the British Blues scene, visiting American artists, as well start touring internationally. The introspective, well read (lover of science, history and philosophy) and passionate Schofield said, this enabled me to stay close to my roots while learning my trade and exploring a variety of musical frontiers.
By age 25 I was starting to explore my own band projects. Although my formative guitar influences are the largely the old school blues players, I never wanted my own music to be constrained by a rigid formula, or even genre. I just want to play Matt Schofield music. Classic Jazz, funk, soul and rock and all the music I love have all found their way into it. The process of writing and singing has become increasingly important to me, and I feel its those other aspects of creativity that helped define my own voice on the guitar. Its always been important to find a context for the guitar to be part of, so that its not just guitar solos for their own sake.
I remain a music lover first and foremost. The recognition Ive received from both fans and peers is humbling and inspiring, and those pinch me moments where I found myself trading licks with heroes like Robben Ford and Buddy Guy are still the biggest thrill.
Now after five studio albums and a solid 10 years of touring with my own band, I have definite broader concepts I want to explore. Remaining open to where the music might take me while maintaining the excitement that improvising and collaborating with talented musicians allow, is key to me. My inspiration and goals came from many places: My influences old and new, including musicians I have wanted to collaborate with for years. Things I still feel I hadn't fully realized on previous studio records, and a need to keep pushing myself. It all meets at the place where Im heading now. Im always aiming to go as far as possible to capturing the same connection with the listener that I aim to make at a live show or on record. Thats the goal. Capturing that special moment."
Josh Smith was born October 7, 1979 in Middletown, Connecticut. Before he was 1, his family relocated to Florida, eventually settling in Pembroke Pines, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. At age 3, he received his first guitar and at 6, he started taking guitar lessons.
Josh was exposed to the blues at an early age. He listened to a variety of artists, such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King and T-Bone Walker. He also started going to concerts, including the Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
By 12, Josh was playing at established professional blues jams in South Florida, such as Musicians Exchange Café in Fort Lauderdale and Club M in Hollywood, FL.
When Josh was 13, the Rhino Cats, house band at Club M, asked him to be the lead guitarist. Musicians Exchange owner Don Cohen was so taken aback by the talent of this young musician that he offered to help manage and develop Josh’s career.
The Café was renowned for bringing in the best national touring blues bands, and Josh was quick to learn how to approach these blues greats, many of whom would invite Josh to sit in with them, thinking it may be a “novelty” to have a 14-year-old kid playing the blues. The novelty quickly wore off and was replaced by musicians stopping, watching and listening as this “kid” wailed out blues licks better than many of the touring guitarists on the circuit. Josh began sitting in with such greats as Jimmy Thackery, Tinsley Ellis, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Double Trouble, Joanna Connor and Kim Simmonds, among others. Jimmy Thackery said of the 14-year-old, “Josh is three heartbreaks away from being a true blues guitar genius.” At 14, Josh released his first CD, Born Under a Blue Sign , and at 15, he released his second CD, Woodsheddin.
While performing all over South Florida, Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats quickly became one of the most in-demand blues bands in the area. In 1994, while Josh was only 15, they received the Florida Jammy Award for best blues band and were selected as XS Readers Choice Winners in 1995 for best blues band. In 1996, then a senior in high school, Josh was put on the cover of the national magazine High School Senior , which hailed him as an “Up and Coming Guitar Legend.” That same year, Washburn Guitars Int’l recognized Josh’s talent and offered him an endorsement. They flew Josh to Chicago and guitar luthier Grover Jackson built him a custom guitar.
Although Josh was an honor student, after graduation from high school in June 1997, Josh followed his heart and began pursuing what he was best at. His first national tour ensued with his newly formed power trio, Josh Smith and the Frost. Josh was now the band leader and vocalist, so he not only had to continue developing his guitar chops, but had to concentrate on his vocal prowess. In September 1997, Josh enlisted world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, whose credits include Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Luther Allison, Steve Miller and Jimmy Thackery, to produce his third CD, Too Damn Cold.
By 1998, Josh had completed four national tours with his band. In January 1998, Billboard Magazine took note of the rising young talent in a Continental Drift article. In February 1998, Josh was asked to support B.B. King on a number of theatre dates. In March 1998, the TV show Chicago Hope purchased the rights to the tune “32 degrees” from Too Damn Cold . An international CD release, The Mentos Freshmaker Tour , included the title cut, “Too Damn Cold,” in the spring of 1998.
Josh toured nationally all of 1999 and in October of that year, he entered the recording studio again with Jim Gaines and produced Woman , his fourth CD. This CD was released and well received in the spring of 2000. Josh continued to tour the East Coast from New York to Florida through 2001 with his band. In June 2002, he married and he and his wife decided to move to Los Angeles. Josh was ready for something new and wanted to be around a variety of musicians. He also began being a sideman.
Within a year of moving to L.A., he was retained by Virgin recording artist Ricky Fante. He played nationally and internationally with Ricky for the next two years.
In May 2006, Josh recorded his fifth CD, Deep Roots . A more traditional blues CD, his music was once again well received by Blueswax and Blues Revue magazine. Josh continued to play with a variety of artists, such as actress Taryn Manning, Universal hip-hop artist Benny Cassette and Tara Ellis, to name a few. In January 2007, Josh was hired by 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to be his lead guitarist. They completed two national tours from February-September 2007 with monthly dates and charity events until June 2008 when Taylor started Grease! on Broadway. In July 2008, Josh was hired by Raphael Saadiq. Since that time, Josh has played such high profile gigs with Raphael as backing Mick Jagger at the Grammy Awards in 2011 and the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2011. Josh continues to tour nationally and internationally with Raphael.
Josh released his 6th studio CD, “Inception,” in 2009. This is an all-instrumental CD with a variety of genres that was once again well received by the public and critics alike.
In 2010, Josh was signed to Crosscut Records, a label based out of Germany. Crosscut re-released Josh’s CD, “Deep Roots,” as “I’m Gonna Be Ready.” In October 2012, Josh’s CD, “Don’t Give Up On Me,” was released in Germany.
Josh continues to live in the Los Angeles area with his wife and two children.
Jeff McErlain is one of the rare musicians who can teach as well as he plays. This is borne out by Jeff being one of the most in demand guitar instructors as well as performing and recording with Robben Ford.
Jeffs unique curriculum and method of teaching is perfect for the player who has been working at the guitar for a while but wants to go to the next level. Jeff has a straight forward and easy rapport with his students, he breaks things down so they can be easily understood, applied, and most importantly, made fun.
Music is a language and learning it can be approached in much