Father’s Day

Local bluesman J.C. Smith rejuvenates a family tradition

By Jim Harrington

J.C. SMITH’s father, Johnnie J. Smith, was a blues guitarist. But Dad, who was born in 1898, retired his blues licks at a young age. Like many highly impressionable men growing up in the early 20th century, Pops was filled with stories reminiscent of Robert Johnson at the “Crossroads” and how blues was the devil’s music (and here we thought that distinction belonged solely to rock & roll or gangsta rap).

Fearing eternal damnation, dear old Dad turned his back on the blues and began playing gospel. The son would not cower before such tall tales although it would take some time before he landed on the right path. It wasn’t until after he graduated from San Jose High School in 1973 that he “discovered” the blues while working as a DJ at KKUP. (Click to read more)

BLUES IN HIS BLOOD J. C. Smith brings ace band to Sly’s. By Andrew Gilbert Thursday, May 10, 2007

It took a while for J.C. Smith to come around, but he finally got into the family business.

Over the past seven years, the San Jose native has emerged as a top Northern California bluesman who combines smooth, soulful West Coast vocals with stinging guitar work marked more by grit than virtuosity. He performs with his high-energy seven-piece band on Saturday evening at Sly McFly’s.

“I grew up in the South Bay, but my parents are from Arkansas, and we’d go back there to visit every once in a while,” Smith says. “Everybody in the family plays an instrument or sings. My brother Paul Smith is still touring with Ike Turner, and a cousin Tim Richards toured with John Lee Hooker. There are lot of great gospel and soul artists in my family, some who are professionals, and some not, but everybody was playing in church.” (Click to read more)

Sarah Sullivan: Blow’n You Away Local Blues February 17, 2013 Have you ever had this experience? You check out a local open mic/jam and are blown away by the talent. That happened to me at Redwood City’s Blues Jam at the Fox Theater. Two minutes into the experience, I was getting down on the dance floor thinking to myself, 1. “This band is off the hook!” 2. “I’ve discovered a gem.” 3. “I can’t believe I only paid $5 to get in. I’ll be back!” When I walked into the Fox Club that Wednesday night and heard the soulful, solid blues riffs the J.C. Smith Band was bringing – I pinched myself. I couldn’t believe it (and frankly still can’t). How could a band this good be so accessible? Come to find out the J.C. Smith Band is the 2012 Best Band of Silicon Valley and was named a “Best Contemporary Blues CD” at the 2010 Grammy Awards. In fact, their latest album “Defining Cool” climbed the charts as high as #25 nationally. (click to read more)
Review by Christine Vitale

JC Smith & The Bone shakers: Blues on the move Posted by Lana

Last Sunday, we tasted African-American blues. JC came from San Francisco, and perfectly played with guys The Bone shakers from Moscow. Despite the fact that this was a carefully prepared and rehearsed in advance the show, everything was fresh and tasty.

This blues can not blow the sadness and gloom. Who would have thought that the blues so well can make to move even the most respectable men with bullet-proof face. The sound was very intense from the first song. He often changed color. His playing JC Smith simply magnetized audience and brought to ecstasy. All had a certain rhythm, while his manner of execution was not rough. Solo was always heartfelt sweetness and soft. (click to read more)


Left Right
Life on the road can be hard living. But take one look at J.C. Smith and you’d think the Blues was made of money. Hands down the best dressed man on BSC, J.C. brought style and sophistication to the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR. Not only did he look good on stage, he had the chops to match! Check him out!
Smith is very deserving of this recognition. His CDs, “The Midnight Creeper” and “That’s What I’m Talk’n ‘Bout,” are solid works. He’s a powerful guitarist, with a few “T-Bones” in his closet, who knows how to put on a thoroughly entertaining show. Plus, he possesses a mean howl that will make you want to – in the words of AC/DC’s Bon Scott – “lock up your daughter, lock up your wife, lock up your backdoor, and run for your life.
Thanks to a stage show that mixes updated West Coast blues with an old-school flare, the J.C. Smith Band has quickly become one of the top blues acts in the Bay Area. Mission accomplished and then some
San Francisco Blues Festival This CD introduces Johnnie C. Smith as one of the most enthusiastic new blues talents to emerge in California in years! Furthermore, he is not only one of the most personable and historically attuned blues personas I’ve ever encountered, but Big Johnnie C. approaches his blues with a soulful conviction I find irresistible. This is a slice of contemporary West Coast blues at its best. Go Johnnie Go!
Southland Blues Magazine Watch out, there’s a new kid in town with a friendly face, a story to tell, and a band as tough and ready as a wild dog let loose in a slaughterhouse. The J.C. Smith Band just tore it up in front of a couple of thousand wildly enthusiastic fans at the Monterey Blues Festival in a riveting and inspired showcase. Smith’s band’s creative spirit instilled new freshness into old classics and his obvious delight in playing music instilled his original material with the fervor of a fast car plunging down a blues mountainside.The J.C. Smith Band’s music will have audiences checking their soul’s pulse, and finding it beating happily.