G.E. Smith Brings Guitar Mastery to Bay Street

G.E. Smith
G.E. Smith

Best known for leading the Saturday Night Live Band for a decade, and being one of the world’s greatest sidemen, Amagansett guitarist G.E. Smith is presenting an exciting evening of music at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Saturday, October 18.

Led by Smith, “Masters of the Telecaster with G.E. Smith and More” features additional guitar by Larry Campbell and Jim Weider, as well as special guest singer-songwriter Taylor Barton. The quartet has a long history of playing with one another at different times, though not necessarily all together, and their chemistry will be nothing short of
amazing on stage.

“One of the best gigs I ever played in my life was me and Larry [Campbell],” Smith says, not long after pointing out that he has played with a long list of rock royals, including Bob Dylan, Roger Waters (on his recent “The Wall Live” world tour), Hall & Oates and Mick Jagger. “I’ve known Larry forever,” he adds of his friend and musical compadre—Campbell is a masterful studio musician who has also played alongside greats such as Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Levon Helm, B.B. King and others of that caliber.

Jim Weider, of course, is famous for being The Band’s sole guitarist from 1985 to 1999, but he too is an accomplished studio musician who has performed and recorded with Bob Weir, Graham Parker and Keith Richards, to name a few.

Barton, the night’s special guest performer, is Smith’s wife and an acclaimed songwriter who has played with the likes of Dylan, Jerry Garcia and Neil Young, not to mention her guitar god husband.

“My wife is a great singer and songwriter. She comes up with interesting chords,” Smith says, pointing out that he’s lucky to have Barton in the night’s lineup because Bay Street is close to their Amagansett home, where the couple and their 12-year-old daughter live year round. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t make the appearance.

“I’ve done a lot of different stuff,” Smith says of his storied career, while explaining what makes “Masters of the Telecaster” so special. “This is different because it focuses on the guitar playing…It’s really about the music.”

Fans coming to the show can expect to see, and hear, all four musicians shredding away together, but Smith notes that it’s no self-indulgent jam. They will play through a well-rehearsed set of songs with full band accompaniment. Of course, in the structure of those songs, Smith says, “We might get into a pretty good jam.”

Campell, Weider and Smith are all well known for playing Fender Telecaster guitars—hence the “Masters of the Telecaster” moniker. The classic model was Smith’s very first, and Fender has since produced a Telecaster under his name.

“My mom bought me a Telecaster for my 11th birthday,” Smith says, explaining the guitar’s “bright, twangy sound.” But the guitar is versatile, he adds. “That’s a particular sound that’s been on thousands of famous recordings.” A Telecaster can also produce “warm, sweet, nasty” sounds—“It can be anything,” Smith adds.

Saturday’s “Masters of the Telecaster” show is the second in a series, which will continue with Smith, Weider and Campbell in Sellerville, Pennsylvania on Sunday. The guitarists played their first show at the Iridium in New York City, where the trio played in front of a large crowd on September 25 and 26. “There were people from all over the world,” Smith says. “It went real well,”

Smith hopes to present more music events at Bay Street, especially during the offseason. If “Masters of the Telecaster” is a success, the guitarist says he could really “get something going” at the theater. “The winter is real long,” he says, “I could bring all sorts of people.”

“Masters of the Telecaster with G.E. Smith and More” begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 18, at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street, in Sag Harbor. Tickets are $35 and available at baystreet.org. For more information, call 631-725-9500.

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