The empathetic scene in Austin, Tex., beckons to singer/songwriters with a siren's seductive allure, inviting musicians of every conceivable stripe to perform in front of some of the most discerning audiences on the planet.
With the constant influx of talent into the Texas capital over the past few decades, the true rarity is the singer/songwriter that actually hails from the city. Danny Schmidt is a member of that fairly exclusive club. Born and raised in Austin, Schmidt picked up guitar at 12, traced back the Blues roots of Jimi Hendrix at 20 and was converted to Folk by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Waits and John Prine. Schmidt bailed out of college before his senior year and joined what in the '60s would have been branded as “communes” in Missouri and Virginia, ultimately settling in the fertile Folk scene of Charlottesville, Va.
In the mid-’90s, Schmidt began writing his own songs, leading to his 2000 debut album, Live at the Prism Coffeehouse, followed by Enjoying the Fall in 2001. He was also a founding member of the King of My Living Room songwriters collective. Over the subsequent dozen years, Schmidt has released five more acclaimed albums, the last two — 2009's Instead the Forest Rose to Sing and 2011's Man of Many Moons — on powerhouse Folk label, Red House.
Schmidt's poetic and melodic gifts have earned him glowing comparisons to Dylan and Leonard Cohen, his keen sense of humor has been measured against Prine and Steve Goodman and his haunting songcraft, as well as his roots, have aligned him with Townes Van Zandt. All of those reference points are appropriate and none of them are completely accurate; Danny Schmidt is every bit the original voice as the legends so frequently and deservedly mentioned in the same breath.
DANNY SCHMIDT performs Sunday, May 19 with Carrie Elkin at Southgate House Revival in Newport. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.