It was a fine, quiet evening at UNC-Chapel Hill when I sauntered over to Person Recital hall looking for a place to practice my clarinet. It was a rare occasion to snag the space for its fine acoustics, and I often had to climb into open windows of non-air conditioned classrooms after hours just to get in the practice time that I needed.
It was tough, but in this instance, I thought I had made my way into Person at just the right time. Lights on, doors unlocked, no sounds to be heard. Yet, I was wrong.
When I open the door, there I would find a curly, dark haired gent, bare feet, sitting before me with a guitar in hand, propped up on his lap, and an incredible looking microphone setup just a few feet away. He stops and looks up at me with a squirrel-like curiosity: a friendly gaze, and a glint of a grin. He was between takes in a recording session, so I quickly apologize and ease the door back shut before he can say "This room is occupied."
After closing the door, I begin hearing these marvelous guitar sounds that would ravage my ear. It was glorious and felt deeply personal, almost like a concert reverberating through walls just for me. So, with my back to the wall near the exit, I shimmy down to take a seat on the carpet, and I wait intently just to warn any others who would come not to enter.
I learned the young fellow was Barrett Smith, making his first solo guitar album, and I managed to be one of the first to hear it and its magic in the making. Imagine the glory that overcame me when discovered the album in the "local indie artists" section of a thrifty CD shop. I have been in love with Barrett's work ever since.
Then, a time came along when I was asked to perform at house gatherings and weddings, and I found myself lost for funds to hire people to play along with me. So, being inspired so much by Barrett's work and being as resourceful as I am, I put on the CD to just start improvising straight from the heart. I found it a great way to live with the music in the moment and make music in ways I never thought I could.
With that being said, from the streets of homelessness to friends' houses and the confines of my new living room with private guests, I ended up sharing nearly a decade's worth of improvisations to these fine tunes - largely to the benefit of a small, exclusive few. Never did I have more than a bedroom budget to manufacture a CD of the results, but thank goodness it is finally possible through digital technology to share the love of his music & guitar with all of you, with (of course) a touch of me too.
Please enjoy! And Happy Valentine's Day to you all, even if there's no one else around to celebrate it with other than with music made from the heart.