The life-blood of TrueFire’s student population is the lifelong student of guitar. Each issue we’ll get to know one of these passionistas of guitar.

TF: What do you do for a living?

SMITH: By day I work as a physical therapist. I’m based in a primary care health centre, so I get to help people with a range of different musculoskeletal problems. Occasionally, I might see a musician with either a posture-related pain, or a tendonopathy.

TF: What is your practice regime? How do you go about learning?

SMITH: Well, I try not to have a fixed regime actually. The assignments I get from my teacher, Jeff McErlain at the Juke Joint, provide me with structure and focus, but the whole point of getting better at the guitar for me is that it should be fun and rewarding. So, if I don’t do a practice session for a day or two, I try not to beat myself up about it. Inspiration is everywhere and sometimes trying to force it is counter-productive.

TF: Why do you think music is important to someone’s life?

SMITH: Ah man! How much space do we have?! It can be everything – a primeval form of creative expression, mood-alteration, era-defining, cultural identification, life-changing, inspirational…

TF: If you could learn to play any one thing, what would it be? Song, solo, piece etc.

SMITH: Anything by Nigel Tufnel…his solos are his trademark 😉

TF: Who is your favorite guitarist and why?

SMITH: I am definitely more influenced by players with great “feel” and unique style, rather than fast, technical players. Attitude counts for so much too…I’m thinking Townsend, Steve Marriott, early Clapton and Beck…it’s hard not to mention Hendrix in the list. He has always been a big influence on me, particularly his rhythm style on tracks like “Castles Made of Sand” and “Angel”.

TF: What musician would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)?

SMITH: I would love to have been at one of Mama Cass’ BBQ gatherings in Laurel Canyon, back in the day…that way I would get to rub shoulders with the likes of Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, Clapton, The Byrds, The Doors, Joni Mitchel etc etc. Crazy, but incredibly inspirational times!

TF: If you were stranded on a desert island, what one guitar would you like to have with you (yes, electricity is on the island).

SMITH: Only one!? Mmm..that’s tough 😉 I think I would choose my modded Mexican Fender Cabronita, with TV Jones Duo-Tron pickups. It plays and sounds amazing and looks damn cool too! It’s also pretty lightweight for a tele, so I should be able to make a raft out it and get off the dessert island 😉

TF: If you could be in any band (current or past) which band would you like to be in?

SMITH: Well, without doubt, the Stones’s ’68-’73 period was the pinnacle of rock n roll! There must have been something incredible about being a part of the mid-60s British blues explosion too: Bluesbreakers, Yardbird, Birds, Cream, Pretty Things. It’s incredible to imagine just how quickly music evolved during this time. Only 10 years separate “Jailhouse Rock” and “Purple Haze”.

TF: Finish this sentence, ”If everyone on the planet played guitar….”

SMITH: …there would be less trees and more cows without nuts

TF: Describe your biggest ‘aha’ moment on guitar.

SMITH: Well, I suppose I could learn how to play “Take On Me”, but I’m not a fan of A-Ha 😉 But seriously, since I’ve been taking lessons with Jeff on TrueFire and getting deeper into scales, it’s really opened up the fretboard for me. It’s been like “Google Translate” for the language of guitar.

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