College Dean's CD Holds Musical Treasure
If you've attended a recent music program at Sandhills Community College, you may have had the pleasure of hearing Rick Smith, dean of institutional advancement, sing a familiar tune or two.
In addition to being an excellent fundraiser and administrator, Rick is a superb guitarist blessed with a warm baritone that he wields with professional finesse.
If you haven't attended any of the programs where Rick's singing was featured, there's hope yet.
In 2011, Rick recorded a CD at Danny Infantino's state-of-the-art studio in Southern Pines, and the results are nothing less than astonishing.
"Music has been one of the mile-markers of my life," says Smith. "The songs I have recorded for this album reflect some of those mile-markers - and the places, people and memories that are part of them. I hope you find a tune (or two) on this album that do that for you."
Indeed, there's a little something for everyone on "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" Smith delivers the opening cut, "Affair on 8th Avenue," penned by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, with sensitivity and a deep appreciation for Lightfoot's poetic bent. The song is a classic of the 1970s and has been too long out of circulation, but the lyric is memorable:
"And she showed me her treasures of paper and tin/And then we played a game only she could win/And she told me a riddle I'll never forget/Then left with the answer I've never found yet."
Peter, Paul, and Mary's lyric "There Is a Ship" resonates with the strains of the traditional "The Water is Wide," and Smith loses none of the impact with his sometimes delicate and always soulful delivery.
If it's possible to find a tune that transcends the other 11 cuts on Smith's CD, it's Willie Nelson's "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," which Smith delivers with Nelson's characteristic verve and a slightly more laid-back feeling - if it's possible to be more laid-back than Willie Nelson.
With James Taylor's "Walking Man," Smith maintains the gentle allure and beauty of the song's original arrangement while adding a sweet, soothing touch on the vocals. Smith's selection of John D. Loudermilk - this Durham cat wrote "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," "Abilene" and "Break My Mind"- is a tribute to a North Carolina songwriter who has never quite received the praise he deserves.
Keeping with the album's eclectic approach, Smith presents Lerner and Loewe's "I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?" with a vigor that nudges Richard Burton off the stage.
"Rick's 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?' is a delightful treat for the ears with lush arrangements that compliment his rich baritone," says Danny Infantino. "Anyone who listens to Rick's playing and singing can't help but be moved."
So where can you buy a copy of Rick Smith's new CD? The songs are downloadable from the Internet on iTunes and CD Baby, and hard copies are available at The Country Bookshop.
If you'd like to hear Smith's artful delivery of "Danny Boy," he will be making a guest appearance at Danny Infantino's St. Patrick's Day Celtic concert at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m.
As part of Palustris, Smith will also be singing songs from his CD with the Little Orphan Annie Junk-and-Scat Band on March 22 at 1 p.m. in the Dempsey Student Center at Sandhills Community College. Admission is free.
Contact Stephen Smith at travisses@ hotmail.com.
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