Shane Smith & The Saints: Tower Theatre OKC
Tower Theatre, Oklahoma City, May 31, 2019. This is a date that I will never forget. The first time that I was able to experience the energetic live show, that is Shane Smith & the Saints. The evening began with another act that I am familiar with, but have also not seen live, Giovannie & The Hired Guns. The “…rock and roll/country driven band out of Stephenville, Texas…” got the near sold out crowd fired up with that mix of original tunes and a few covers. Giovannie and the band turned out the best cover of “Satan and St. Paul” from John Fullbright’s album, From the Ground Up. Giovannie & The Hired Guns have been around since 2015 and released their first album, Bad Habits, in August of 2017, and have recently released their single, “Lover Boy” earlier this year. Giovannie & The Hired Guns are a band that needs to be on your radar; you will see them on the circuit a lot more in the very near future.
Music can be many different things to a variety of different folks in the concert scene. Music can be therapy, an escape, an addiction in and of itself, a place of happiness surrounded by those who have the love for a similar sound. For the most part, I find myself behind the lens of my camera, trying my best to capture the emotion and the compositions of what is taking place on the concert stage. That sometimes can make it difficult to actually listen, instead of just hearing the show. For this particular night, I did not have my camera with me. I was able to observe, listen, and take everything in as Shane Smith & The Saints took the Tower Theatre stage.
The fiery, energetic set consisted of “All I See Is You,” “Hurricane,” “Mountain,” and a tribute song to the currently dismantled, Red Dirt friends of Shane Smith & The Saints, The Turnpike Troubadours. Newcomer, and former guitarist for The Black Lillies and Mickey and The Motorcars, Dustin Schaefer, seemed to be right at home in his new element. Schaefer, Smith, Brown, and Satterwhite spent the entire evening playing off one another’s energy, as they were all over the stage throughout the entire set. The encore came with another moving and special tribute from Shane Smith to the Turnpike Troubadours.
Tito Lindsey joined the band for a rendition of the Troubadours song, “Long Hot Summer Day.” The tune, originally written by John Hartford in 1976, appears on the Turnpike Troubadours album, Diamonds and Gasoline. The album initially went under the radar and had limited success for the Turnpike Troubadours. But, after the bands successful release of Goodbye Normal Street, which reached number fourteen on the U.S. country charts, “Long Hot Summer Day” may have provided that extra fanbase through a bit of lucky exposure. “Some success may be due to the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman, Matt Carpenter, made it his walk up song in 2013 – the same year they were in the World Series. Band member and fiddle player Kyle Nix thinks this exposure is what “seems to have blown up their fan base really big. Social media seemed to have made the song very popular in the Missouri region.” Intentional or not, this was the perfect song by Tito Lindsey and Shane Smith & The Saints to end the night and to pay homage to their brothers, the Turnpike Troubadours.
Shane Smith is a native of Terrell, Texas, about an hour outside of Dallas. He attended Tyler Junior College in East Texas, where he played tennis. Smith would eventually transfer to St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas where he would connect with another group of players. Now three albums and nearly 10 years into their career, Shane Smith & the Saints includes Bennett Brown on fiddle, Dustin Schaefer on lead guitar, Chase Satterwhite on bass, and Zach Stover on drums. The groups new album, Hail Mary, was fully released on June 28, 2019.
Hail Mary was recorded in Smith’s hometown studio, Orb Recording Studio, which is owned by Matt Noveskey (of Blue October’s) and released by Geronimo West Records. The album was produced by Mark Needham (Imagine Dragons, The Killers); the first time that the band has worked with an outside producer. Needham focused on the reputation of the band being a “…high-energy live act with stunning four-part harmonies…” and recorded the sessions in a live, in studio, atmosphere. “A lot of these songs he had us in there with Shure SM58 microphones, live, in front of each one of the guys. He’d be actually using it for the final song rather than going in and overdubbing every single voice, which is a very rare thing,” says Smith of the sessions, which were largely tracked live in the studio.
Shane Smith & the Saints released their last album, Geronimo, back in 2015. The band has since been on a heavy touring schedule, that has filled the gap between the previous album and this new release. Though Hail Mary was actually recorded and ready for release over a year ago, Smith has been careful not to rush the release. “I don’t like just throwing stuff out there. If I’m going to be singing about something every night, I try to make it personal, make it something I can really relate to”-Smith. The wait for this production has been absolutely worth it. Hail Mary is one of the best albums so far this year, and one of the most personal releases by Shane Smith & the Saints. “It’s been such a long time coming. And honestly, for me, it’s such a personal album in terms of the lyrical content, what the band has gone through and the band’s families have gone through over the years”-Smith. The album was brilliantly released in four different chapters, starting with chapter one on May 17, 2019. The complete album is available now, and should be in your collection, if it is not already.
Shane Smith & The Saints have released an album, Hail Mary, that will be on many end of the year lists to compete for album of the year. They are also one of the best live acts in the industry today. Look for this band to continue to climb festival bills in the coming years as they take over the Red Dirt music scene.
Photos Courtesy of Melissa Payne: