Above: The Sliding Capos with GE Smith at the Updike Room April 2. Photos by Sonja Lemoi used with permission.
Taylor Barton opened the night at the Updike Room, accompanied by Smith
The Greenwich Hotel’s Updike Room played host to a bit of guitar royalty Saturday night, when GE Smith joined local band The Sliding Capos for two hours of real rock ‘n roll. Smith started his career as lead guitarist for the pop duo Hall and Oates in the 1970s and ‘80s, and was music director and band leader for the Saturday Night Live Band from 1985 to 1995. Since then, he has played all over the world with everyone from Bob Dylan to David Bowie.
Now he can add East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
The collaboration came about because Smith teaches at the Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio, a retreat for guitarists where local guitarist (and doctor!) Hub Brennan of the Capos met Smith during a workshop. Brennan ended up taking lessons with the famed guitarist at Smith’s home on Long Island.
“He’d come over to our house and we would play and hang out. We’re good friends now,” said Smith of Brennan before the show. One thing led to another and The Sliding Capos invited Smith and his wife, performer Taylor Barton, to perform with them at the Updike Room.
Brennan said Smith requested the band play their usual set.
“True sideman that he is, he’ll fit himself in,” Brennan said of Smith.
“That’s my favorite thing to do, to play with people I’ve never played with before,” said Smith. “It’s fun to do that. Music is a language – it only has 12 notes. How wrong can you go?”
Things went right Saturday.
The evening opened with Smith backing Barton in a one-hour set of original songs dedicated to the people of Ukraine. By the time The Sliding Capos took the stage with Smith, the friendly crowd – this was a ticket-only event that sold out quickly – was ready for some good music.
Among the highlights: Smith’s guitar mastery on his cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Eyesight to the Blind” and guest vocalist Liz Spencer’s rendition of Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes the Place of You.”
With any luck, Smith and Barton will make East Greenwich a regular stop.
Read more here: GE Smith to Play Greenwich Hotel w/Sliding Capos