Broderick Smith

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Broderick Smith

Over the years Broderick Smith has developed into an Australian music icon. As a member of the Adderley Smith Blues Band, later The Dingoes and in addition to his solo work, Smith has played with just about everyone. It’s been five years since his last release Unknown Country and his 2015 appearance at Motor City Music Festival will be greeted with a new album. Speaking from his home in Castlemaine, Smith is excited about “heading down the road to play”.
“Yeah man! I’ve been playing for so long it will be about my 5,000th gig,” Smith says. “I’m driving from Castlemaine and I always try to do the best that I can in a performance. It’s great to be playing in Geelong once again and I’ll have the new album out and a cracking band, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Influenced by the likes of his dad’s jazz collection and his mother’s passion to sing, music wasn’t very far away in the Smith household. It was an Italian boy by the name of Agazio Ariglio that turned Smith to the harmonica.
“He was playing some double reed harp and Neapolitan tunes and so he showed me a few things. ‘Candy Man’ by Roy Orbison was one of the first tracks that I heard to feature harmonica that I liked. It wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne that I truly discovered the true delta legends such as Sonny Terry and Muddy Waters. When you’re young, you dream and so those early musical discoveries had a tremendous influence on me,” he says.
Playing in bands since the age of 14, it wasn’t until Smith joined the Adderley Smith Blues Band in the mid ’60s that things started getting serious. Influenced around more of the Chicago and city blues kind of tunes, it was meeting the infamous Kerryn Tolhurst at that point that changed the game for Smith.
“I was chatting to Kerryn the other day, who said that during that time we got our dress sense from Paul Butterfield Blues Band rather than The Rolling Stones. To a point it was probably a direct rip off of their stage clothes. We really digged what the Paul Butterfield band were doing at that time,” Smith says.
Throughout the ’60s in Melbourne, the music scene was quite different to today. In those days you could gig every night of the week, which led to many of the bands becoming incredibly tight.
“There was no segregation in those days, you’d play a gig and you might be on before a big pop group or the Red Onions Jazz Band. It was the key to being exposed to so many different styles of music. A tremendous learning experience and something that you don’t really get any more these days,” he says.
On the latest release, Smith enlisted the likes of Matt Walker, Shannon Bourne and was lucky enough to get Garth Hudson from The Band to lay down a few keyboard and accordion tracks: “That was a bit of a plus for me musically. Because he is the best in the world at what he does, I had to audition for him before he’d play on the album though. I sent some tracks over to him, and he recorded the parts in a studio five minutes from his house. It was a lovely experience and something I’ll never forget.”
When&Where: Motor City Music Festival, Geelong – March 6,7 & 8
By Tex Miller