Amagansett resident and guitar virtuoso GE Smith is bringing another epic night of music to the Bay Street Theater stage on Friday, April 10—this time with Israeli superstar David Broza.
Smith, along with Taylor Barton (his wife), Larry Campbell and Jim Weider, shredded through an unforgettable Masters of the Telecaster performance at Bay Street in October, and Friday’s show with the multifaceted and super talented Broza should be equally, if not more, memorable.
RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: GE Smith and Masters of the Telecaster at Bay Street
“I’ve known David for a long time,” Smith says, explaining that he met Broza while playing at the United Nations in the 1990s. They have since become musical compadres and even made an album together in 2009, putting a shoebox full of unpublished lyrics by late folkloric singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt to music, 12 years after his death. Co-produced by Smith and Broza, and featuring both musicians, Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Zandt is a first-rate example of the magic these two musicians can make together.
There’s no reason to expect their Bay Street performance would be any less magical, and Smith says they’ll definitely play a couple songs from their Night Dawn collaboration.
For this week’s A Night to Rock show, Smith will play his beloved Fender Telecaster electric guitar, while Broza plays an electrified acoustic-style guitar. “It’s a really interesting mix, those two guitars together,” Smith says, noting that Broza himself presents an inspired, eclectic blend of influences.
“He’s completely Israeli, completely Spanish and completely a guy from New Jersey,” Smith says, describing Broza’s distinctive background. “David thinks in all three languages,” he adds. “It’s a really interesting mix of influences,” Smith says of Broza’s unique sound, combining his Flamenco guitar style and Middle Eastern flavor with American and British pop and rock. “I’ve never seen anyone who does what he does.”
Of course Smith is also a musician of the highest caliber, and recognized as one of the world’s greatest sidemen. He’s probably best known for leading the Saturday Night Live Band on the popular late night television show for a decade (1985–95), but Smith’s career is as storied as they come. He played lead guitar for Hall & Oates when they created their biggest hits, he’s worked with David Bowie on numerous tracks and—along with backing SNL’s many musical guests—he’s recorded and/or toured with an long list of greats, including Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Hot Tuna, Red Buttons and even beat poet Allen Ginsberg, to name a few.
While he continues to tour and play on records, Smith has now become a go-to guy for producing big event shows. He’s served as musical director and bandleader for events such as the Kennedy Center Honors for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, The Muddy Waters Tribute and Mark Twain Awards in honor of both Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters. Smith is currently putting together a tribute to Les Paul for the electric guitar innovator’s 100th birthday in June.
Smith attributes his great guitar chops and knack for producing shows to his 50 years of playing all kinds of music. “I grew up playing in the bars since I was 11 years old,” he says, and bar musicians always have to know the hits. “I wound up learning over the years probably several thousand songs. “I pretty much know songs all the way back to the Civil War.”
The combined pedigree of Smith and Broza should make for an excellent night of music on Friday, and Smith loves the idea of introducing the Israeli star to a new audience. “I’ve always been amazed that he wasn’t huge in the United States,” he says of Broza. “People will really like his music.”
Friday’s performance won’t be as loud as the electric-centric Masters of the Telecaster, but “It has its rocking moments,” Smith assures fans. “Bay Street is a great place to play… People are really going to like this show.”
A Night to Rock with G.E. Smith and David Broza begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 10 at Bay Street Theater (1 Bay Street) in Sag Harbor. Tickets are $40 and available at baystreet.org.