FREETIME: Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith to perform at Roper Ballroom Sept. 13
WHAT: Concert with singer-songwriter Darden Smith
WHEN: Fri., Sept. 13; doors 6:30 p.m., show 7:30
WHERE: Roper Music Ballroom, 136 N. 5th St.
INFO: 970-243-3974; tickets available at Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., or Roper Music, 136 N. 5th St.
It wasn’t long after singer-songwriter Darden Smith picked up the guitar at age 9, before he was learning all of the songs on Neil Young’s “Harvest” and “After the Gold Rush” albums.
Then, one day, “I saw his picture and realized he’d wrote all those songs,” Smith said, speaking by phone from his home in Austin, Texas. “I went home that night and wrote my first song — I’ve been writing ever since.”
Smith will perform Friday, Sept. 13, in Grand Junction in the Roper Music Ballroom — a lovely, historical venue that seats 230, located upstairs above Roper Music, 136 N. Fifth St.
While he may have learned on Neil Young songs, Smith’s style has been influenced more by legendary singer-songwriters Guy Clark, John Prine and Bob Dylan, he said.
Smith released his first album “Native Soil” in 1986, which featured Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith on harmony vocals. He’s continued to record a number of albums over the years, including his most recent July release, “Love Calling.”
Smith will tour across the nation and the United Kingdom this fall to promote the new CD.
According to his label, Compass Records, the melodies and arrangements of “Love Calling” recall his earliest recording days, but with mature lyrics of a “veteran songwriter with experiences both personal and professional, that he couldn’t have anticipated, let alone written about, a quarter-century ago.”
“I pull from my life,” Smith said, regarding songwriting. “I eavesdrop all the time. People say the most fantastic things. As a songwriter, I just have to listen.”
Smith has spread his love of writing songs to others. In 2003, he founded the nonprofit — Be An Artist Program — “as a series of workshops to encourage students to explore creativity through songwriting” in schools across the United States and Western Europe.
In 2012, Smith founded another program called “SongwritingWith,” where Smith collaborates with various groups to bring forth storytelling through music. SongwritingWith projects have included working with U.S. military veterans, homeless youth at a New Jersey shelter, and residents of a Botswanan village and South African township who have been affected by AIDS and HIV.
On his website, Smith wrote about how collaborating with soldiers compares with composing songs with other songwriters.
“The soldiers aren’t ‘songwriters.’ So it’s up to me to come up with the structure and melody and make it all work as a song. And it’s up to me to listen. The joy of it is that it shows me again and again that everyday stories, and everyday language, are the raw material of songs. All I have to do is take their stories, use their words, and write it all down.”
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