Sonny Smith is one of those rare artists whose creativity cannot be restricted by a single medium. Smith is a musician first and foremost, but he has applied his musical talents to a varied series of collaborative projects and expanded the potential intersections of art and music.
At 19, Smith earned his keep playing Blues piano in San Francisco, Denver and Central America, a circuit that exposed him to a broad variety of music. In 2003, the literary magazine Watchword commissioned him to write a series of songs that would serve as one-act plays, a project that forced him to consider his own music from a more theatrical perspective. Two years later, during a residency for the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, Calif., Smith created a full-length musical entitled The Dangerous Stranger.
Smith continued to work as a playwright and a musician, releasing albums under his own name, but in 2009 he assembled a group of players — including solo musician Kelley Stoltz and members of Thee Oh Sees, Citay and The Fresh & Onlys — in order to craft a band sound under the banner of Sonny & the Sunsets. The group’s first album, 2009’s Tomorrow is Alright, showcased Smith’s penchant for storytelling in song, accompanied by a soundtrack that blended the innocence of ’60s Teen Pop and Doo Wop with a Glam/Psych-tinged spin on Garage Rock and Art Pop.
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