“Smith and Gone” represents the perfect storm of traditional Southern Rock and the kind of originality that comes from years of playing and honing one’s craft.
The band consists of JD Smith on vocals, Larry Kelly on bass, John Laing on guitar and Bruce Gust on drums. Each one of these guys brings a unique musical personality to the group which translates to a sound that is distinctive as it is compelling.
JD comes from Kansas and arrived in Nashville determined to get a record deal. A chance meeting introduced him to Larry Kelly, a heavy metal bass player and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a genuine appreciation for aggressive Country. The two got together and formed “Whiskey Run” that would prove to be a highly successful enterprise within the Nashville club circuit including a couple of years as the house band at “Tootsies.”
Meanwhile, JD was being wooed by Warner Brothers. He had a developmental deal while simultaneously performing with Whisky Run who was making their own demos and being flown to the West Coast to record songs that were going to be used to convince the decision makers within the upper echelons of the music industry that what was happening at “Tootsies” needed to be revealed to the world.
While all this was going on, John Laing is distinguishing himself as a quality lead guitar player in Jackson, Mississippi. His talent would take him literally all over the world playing in various bands but it was meeting the love of his life that would inspire him to move to Nashville and it was there that he would be introduced to JD.
The fourth member of the band had served in the USMC for nine years before moving to Nashville and getting a record deal with the band, “Western Flyer.” Bruce Gust grew up in Hilton, New York and started playing drums in High School before joining the Marines and serving as a Drum Instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music. After coming off the road and a brief stint with the “Little River Band,” he met JD at church and the two formed a friendship that would lead to JD inviting him to become a part of a new version of “Whiskey Run.”
Despite all of the momentum and accolades that had distinguished “Whisky Run” as a promising new comer to the Nashville music scene, a realignment of personal priorities resulted in the band being put on the back burner in order to focus more on family and those things that last longer than a charting single. But like a vintage wine whose time had now come, JD, Larry, John and Bruce began working on a new version of “Whiskey Run” – the band that would become “Smith and Gone!”
It’s not so much the time they’ve been together as much as it’s the collective history they have playing and working as artists that come together in a way where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. You’re not listening to a group of guys that are desperate to impress as much as they are inspired to serve. Fueled by their relationship with Christ, shaped by the pain and pleasure of life and motivated by the power of music to move people in a positive direction, their performances and their recordings reek of quality and generate excitement.
This is Smith and Gone!