Striving For A New Tomorrow

It's been a few years since David P. Smith threw his infamous Hurtin' Dance Party,
a bawdy and tumultuous gathering of lonely drunken souls looking for love and a glimmer
of hope. His music, like a healthy dose of booze, has a way of making the pain feel good.
It's got a wry sense of humour that's best suited to the candid and dimly lit mood of the
tavern and, unless you like a little hair of the dog, it's not the kind of noise you want hangin'
over your head in the morning. Once hooked, however, it doesn't matter how many promises
you make yourself, the slow and tortured push and pull of David P. Smith's accordion is
forever a siren song. Smith's live performance is a fascinating spectacle. At first unassuming,
he generates enough kinetic energy to light the stage. The grey-haired man with thick-rimmed
glasses and a pint in his hand seen talking to the sound guy earlier is slow to reveal himself.
Yet one anguished howl and haunting lament at a time, his shadowy figure becomes a
conflagration that consumes those warming their hearts around him, eyes ablaze and wondering:
"Who in God's name is this?" It's a sound steeped in country and various folk traditions, but
once pressed between the ends of Smith's accordion, it's simplicity turns to frenzy. On
Striving For A New Tomorrow, the party shows no signs of abating. This man's mission,
though weighted in anguish, will light the path for many on a long road ahead.
B;less his hurtin' soul.
—Travis Richey

AMERICANA-UK (full review here)
David P. Smith "Striving For A New Tomorrow" (Northern Electric 2006)

Hilarious drunken escapades of Canadian accordion player
Similar to some of the Pogues early work, Smith manages to capture the sound of drunken reverie whether in upbeat zydeco numbers or in downbeat maudlin tales of alcoholism. This is a great record, well worth chasing down if you are a fan of Frank’s Wild Years or Countrysides.

David P. Smith
Striving for a New Tomorrow (Northern Electric)
Smith exposes the twisted roots of Americana and proves himself a masterful, hilarious storyteller. His skewed view on the world is perfectly exemplified on “Calgary Acid Song,” which gets an unlikely Sun Records production treatment as he describes a fateful night of walking around Cow-town after taking two blotters. Smith’s voice may be a little lacking, but his monotone warble provides the perfect vessel for his songs about the worst jobs he has ever had (“Worst Job”), innocent drinking accidents (“Teen-Age Drinking Song”), not so innocent drinking accidents (“Fourth of July”) and notes taken while drinking (“Clarity of Whiskey”), while innocence looks on, shaking its head. 8/10 (Johnson Cummins)

Album: Striving for a New Tomorrow
Label: Northern Electric

The latest CD from Victoria artist David P. Smith, titled Striving For A New Tomorrow, is his first on the Vancouver-based label Northern Electric. It is about time this amazing accordion player got some help distributing his music. Somewhat of a cult figure in the Victoria and Vancouver alternative music scenes, Smith’s style is hard to describe. While it definitely has its roots in country, it grows far beyond them. Smith himself has a background as a performance artist, house painter, and, if his lyrics are to be taken literally, a diehard alcoholic. The music blends all of this into something poetic, moving, catchy, witty, and fun. If you own any of Smith’s other releases, a couple of the tracks off Striving For A New Tomorrow will be familiar. Revived is the "Teen-Age Drinking Song" as well as "Sunday," and the obscure "Possum Pie" originally recorded with Smith’s old band, Mansmell. Notable back-up musicians include Scott Henderson and Aaron Mogerman (known with Smith as Dad’s Juice) as well as Lily Fawn, Hank Pine, and a good handful of talented others. ~ RD


David P. Smith
Striving For a New Tomorrow
Northern Electric | Universal

(4 stars)

A loopy hillbilly Victorian
Yelping and pumping accordion
This poetic boozer
Paints himself as a loser
But his twisted roots shtik is euphorian



Artist: David P. Smith
Label: Maximum Music
Rating: 3 1/2

It's hard to get a firm handle on this Vancouver artist/musician.
He's committed to his oddball, retro-roots sound, packing as much
hillbilly clang as possible into each track, but he's also just as clearly
not the jokester he may seem on first listen. Don't misunderstand - he's a
good natured sort, prone to riffing on topics like Calgary Acid Song and
Worst Job, but there's also barely contained rage spilling out in a lot of
these songs, and a jolting surrealism that pops out at the unlikeliest of
moments (Fourth of July). Smith opens for the Buttless Chaps at the Black
Dog on Wednesday, March 8.



Victoria's David P. Smith is dealing in Hurtin' Rhythm and Booze --
"accordion-driven and laced with abstract lyrics that draw upon awkward
teenage moments, visceral imagery and a unique take on life.'' Smith's
band, Dad's Juice, joins him in an extensive tour which pauses at Amigo's
on Saturday with The Buttless Chaps. His new CD is Striving For A New
Tomorrow, featuring colourful titles like Clarity of Whiskey, Holy Pies
and Calgary Acid Song.



Band: David P. Smith
Song: Worst Job
A perennial favourite at Red Cat, David P. Smith has almost single- handedly rescued the accordion from its pathetic Polka purgatory. Self-described as "hillbilly rhythm and booze", David P. Smith is first and foremost an engaging and humorous raconteur. Wrapped around his stories of drinking, despair and doin' acid is a fire and brimstone band that makes the whole experience much like a snake handlin' religious revival. It will make you want to speak in tongues and flail around on the floor.
Album: Striving For A New Tomorrow
Label: Northern Electric
Location: Victoria, BC
Notes: David P. Smith's partner (and soon to be wife), B.A. Lampman is an accomplished artist whose works have graced the covers of many a CD... including David's new album as well as recordings by Tom Hollistion, John Guliak and Blue Pine (Frog Eyes).


David P Smith
Striving for a New Tomorrow

Old-school folk rockers
Sing of booze, drugs, and more booze
Hot damn, I like it V


David P. Smith - Striving For a New Tomorrow - C-/A-

On one level, this album is a mish-mash of blue grass, bayou, blues, O Brother, Where Art Thou and Tom Waits that comes off as absolutely comical and almost as unlistenable. On another level, the album has a disturbing honesty to it. Songs about teenage drinking, dropping acid, and the deaths of people you only kind of know are written in a conversational poetry that rings with ridiculous, sad, human truth. So buy this album, or don’t. You’ll be better off either way.
—Jordan deBruyn


Singer Smith hitches horse to Buttless Chaps: Longest trek. Smith and
Chaps go back to the late '90s

Pairing alt-country iconoclasts the Buttless Chaps with weirdo
singer-songwriter David P. Smith for an 11-date tour is one of those
no-brainer double bills that just seems to make sense.

Both have new records to promote, both attract a psychedelic-folk
audience and both are borderline bizarre and wholly original live

What makes this tour even more special is that Smith and the Chaps have a
friendship that dates back to the late '90s, when the two Victoria-bred
acts were finding their feet as performers.

Singer-guitarist Dave Gowans of the Chaps remembers meeting Smith for the
first time in late 1997, during an open-mike night.

"(Singer) Carolyn Mark had coaxed me into it. I was writing songs and
making little cassettes for my girlfriend, but had never performed until
Carolyn got me up on stage. I really enjoyed it ... I went back the next
week and David was there and he played Ring of Fire on his accordion. I
liked him instantly."

The two have maintained a close personal and creative relationship over
the years, from stints in bands together to sharing stages at various
local venues.

"I think it's a kinship," Smith, 45, said of Gowans. "I don't think
there's the same musical mindset. Dave is 15 years younger than me, for
one thing. The '80s are a big influence on him, and I'm just not there.
But beyond those obvious surface things, I think we do share a lot of
deeper similarities."

The tour will be one of the longest treks to date for Smith, but he's
eager to get out and support his new release, Striving for a New Tomorrow,
his first for the major label-distributed Northern Electric Sound.

The recording process was far more expensive and time-consuming than
Smith, a lo-fi traditionalist, is accustomed to. As a result, he had to
spread the sessions over a two-year period.

"It was a little difficult at times as a creative process," he says.
"Doing more production and over-dubbing was a process I wasn't that
familiar with. I didn't know where to go. The other part was having a lack
of continuity in the recording process because of the outside influences
in your life."

Smith eventually enlisted the help of Gowans, 33, who works at Northern
Electric Sound, and pushed the recording over the finish line. "The record
was sitting there and I didn't know what to do and I didn't really care,"
Smith says.

Gowans was fresh from recording Where Night Holds Light, the fifth album
from the Buttless Chaps and an album his band of eight years also had
difficulty finishing.

"We kind of stalled out on it," Gowans says. "We got offered a tour with
the Rheostatics and pushed the recording back a little bit. Then one of
our members had to go away to work. We reconvened at another studio and
finished it in the fall. But when we had some time to sit back and listen
to it, we wanted to arrange stuff differently."



*David P. Smith - Striving For A New Tomorrow (Northern Electric)
Talk to anyone from Victoria... they know. David P. Smith is something special... like that weird uncle who used to get drunk and tell you stories that would either give you nightmares or cause you to ask your parents if they'd ever done acid. Self described as "hillbilly rhythm and booze"... Red Cat described as the man who actually made accordion "cool" (and not in some stupid ironic post modern way). In addition to fixing the accordion, David tells a mean story... he also tells a funny story... he also tells a strange story. Getting the picture? Well, add a kick-ass band of Old Testament proportions, and you got the whole freaky enchilada.



In defense of the common accordion
David P. Smith makes an impassioned plea on behalf of his instrument


Thursday, February 24
Palomino Club
David P. Smith and I start our chat with a shared memory. It’s the late ’80s and all nine members of The Pogues are lined up across the large stage of the Spectrum Club in Montreal. The late Joe Strummer is standing in on acoustic rhythm guitar, Shane MacGowan is relatively sober and in fine form, and there, slightly stage left, a tall lanky Brit is manhandling an accordion the size of a Honda Civic.

In an enormous feat of performance brilliance, Huge Accordion Guy (James Fearnley?) nearly steals the show right out from under the boots of his illustrious bandmates. For me, it’s a profound realization of what an incredibly visually exciting instrument the simple squeezebox can be. Smith remembers the giant accordion.

"To tell you the truth, I was more fixated on Joe Strummer," he confesses. "Also, I was pretty drunk."

A short time later, still in Montreal, Smith picks up a friend’s accordion and begins messing with it. The resulting tango continues to the present day in his current Victoria abode. His second full-length solo release, Striving for a New Tomorrow, further evolves Smith’s wacked-out, psychedelic brand of "Hillbilly Rhythm & Booze." Guitarist Scott Henderson (Show Business Giants) further chemically enhances this meaty, musical mulligan stew. New Tomorrow blends traditional country and hard rockin’ saloon stomp with great lyrics, some jazzy flavourings and a fair bit of home-stilled whisky. His band isn’t called Dad’s Juice for nothing.

"We’re like the non-tattood, non-pierced band that sits in chairs," Smith says with characteristic understatement.

Still, the musical underpinnings for all these tales of woe, grief, excess and deliverance are all fervently squeezed out of Big Red, Smith’s trusty instrument of choice.

Like the guitar, the accordion is a personal instrument that you hold and can sing along with while playing. The accordion, however, avoids the phallic, masturbatory connotations associated with the six-string.

"It’s strapped tightly to your chest so it’s like it’s a part of you, and there’s all this resonance that you can feel through your whole body," Smith explains. "It just feels really great!"

In addition to these simple pleasures there’s also a practical side, "You don’t have to tune it, you just press a key and it makes the sound you want."

Smith’s performances tend to draw other accordion-philes out of the proverbial woodwork.

"There’s a lot of people, and not even accordion players, who are just passionate about the accordion. People come up to me after the shows and they’re just obviously in love with the accordion and enchanted by it. It’s not a typical instrument."

But there’s still that perceived stigma that continues to dog the accordion. Maybe it’s Herr Oompah in the lederhosen and feathered hat, or the bespectacled, polyester-suited Polka King or the Chubby Kid in junior high who got beat up all the time. Smith, who played clarinet in his high school band, will have none of this.

"There is no stigma to the accordion. Of course, there will always be people who think the world is flat and Blacks should ride on the back of the bus, but the power and majesty of the accordion is clear to any thinking and music-loving individual."

He continues in his passionate diatribe.

"It is a truly global, cross-cultural instrument – from the Maritimes to the townships of Soweto, to Eastern Europe, to Louisiana, to Ireland, to South America and so on. It is able to encompass all this music because it is a versatile, portable, expressive instrument. It is like a mobile keyboard, a full band. It can be wonderful in its simplicity and amazing in its complexity." If this all sounds just a tad over-rehearsed, it’s because, "I’ve defended the accordion before and said very similar things," Smith says flatly.