Tuning In with Adam Smith

Posted on July 10, 2014 by

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For a while, Monday nights at C&O were Radio Bistro nights. Local musicians, record store owners, and DJs would set up turntables to the right of the downstairs bar, between the monkey lamp and the swinging barn door. That night’s DJ brought his/her own records to spin, each one creating for the night a special ambiance in the dim, wood-paneled bar.

Adam SmithRadio Bistro inspired the “Tuning In” series—getting local music aesthetes to share their taste with a new and receptive audience. Adam Smith, the mastermind behind Radio Bistro, contributed this week’s playlist. Radio Bistro was inspired, Smith says, “by every bar in Brooklyn.”

“I was noting the amount of New York DJs who were just playing tunes to enjoy and not necessarily boogie to, and I [knew] that no one in Charlottesville was doing that at the time,” says Smith.

Smith stopped tending bar at C&O last year, and Radio Bistro fizzled shortly after his departure. “The torch I passed on burned out,” he says. “Maybe after this article comes out someone will want to pick it up again…”

Currently, Smith splits his time between Cville and L.A., working as a musician, songwriter, sound engineer, and DJ. Right now, he’s out in L.A., playing with Lena Fayre’s band. Fayre’s site describes the music as indie-folk with a dusting of trance.

When asked what’s his favorite thing about being a musician, Smith gets philosophical.

It’s “pushing air… the joy of creating something out of nothing and influencing all matter around me with an idea. By plucking a string, striking a chord, banging a drum, we channel thoughts into physical realities, and with every action a reaction that affects the world around us,” he says. “It’s pretty great to feel that powerful with just a guitar or voice or flute or oboe or whatever.”

Smith started playing bass when he was around 11 years old. Previously, he had played piano, but says he “was thoroughly unimpressed and bored by it because I was a snotty youth with only one desire: to play video games. It wasn’t until later that I realized music was actually cool, and [even] later when I found out it was NECESSARY!”

For all of his meditations on the power of music, Smith remains humble. A member of former local band The Invisible Hand and new project Y’ALL, Smith recalls opening for Deerhunter at The Jefferson this past February. “It was a pretty memorable experience,” he says, one that taught him “to never become a diva.” On the other hand, Smith adds, opening for Deerhoof (yes, we’re talking about two different “deer” bands here) was memorable for other reasons: “I got to see a truly positive and inspiring band working hard without the aid of a manager, traveling together in a van and really enjoying each other’s company.”

When Smith isn’t “pushing air,” he’s eating. He took a break from those two activities to put together a playlist, some songs he’s been listening to recently and some he always listens to.

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Posted in: music, Tuning in