Kevin Smith Bio

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Although Kevin has always had an interest in music, he got a late start - not picking up the guitar until he was 16. He spent years working in a high- tech, clean room, semi-conductor factory, while working on a degree in Electrical Engineering but still managed to play a few gigs in rock and blues bands. Still, he eventually realized that he had to pursue his dream. At age 25, Kevin left his job and switched majors to study music.

On a scholarship, Kevin spent a few years studying music at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, OR (a suburb of Portland.) There, he studied guitar with John Weaver and took classes with the legendary Dave Barduhn. During this time he played in the award winning MHCC jazz band, playing The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, The Mount Hood International Jazz Festival, and The International Assocaiation for Jazz Education conference in Chicago. Kevin also worked in local jazz bands, large and small, played in rock and blues bands (including the acclaimed Blues Foundry), playing in musicals (e.g., West Side Story) and began his teaching career, something that would become a life long passion. While in Portland, he also got a chance to study with local guitar favorite, Dan Balmer.

In 1997, Kevin eventually ran out of money and decided to go and get a musical education the old-fasioned way - by working. He started a three year stint working on cruise ships in the orchestra. This was a very formative experience and was an excellent chance to hone his skills while cruising the Caribbean. The orchestra was a chance to play many types of music, including jazz, rock, blues, country and Broadway. The ship also introduced him to the city of New Orleans.

In the year 2000, Kevin gave up on cruise ships and settled in New Orleans. The Crescent City gave Kevin an exposure to a more traditional strain of jazz and he found he liked it. Here he spent his time playing gigs, studying, and teaching. It also afforded him a chance to study jazz with the great Hank Mackie. While there, he played often in many situations, including solo (unacompanied gigs), duets with another guitar, duets with the singer Julia LaShae, The Jimmy Jones Big Band, playing musicals (like Little Shop of Horrors) and playing with the award winning Johnny Angel & the Swingin' Demons.

After a few years in the Big Easy, Kevin decided that it wasn't for him (It's a great place to visit, but not the best place to live.) Kevin went back to cruise ships for three years to rebuild a nest egg and lucked out in meeting his futre wife. He also got a promotion to Music Director, leading the orchestra and managing all the musicians on the ship.

In September of 2005, Kevin and his wife decided to settle in the Bay Area. Here, he began attending CSU East Bay and finished his degree, this time in Classical Guitar going on to get a Master of Arts and graduating summa cum laude. After the university, we went back out to work on cruise ships briefly (the economy wasn't so hot and he needed a little help paying down some school debt) but is now back in the Bay Area for good.

While in the Bay Area, he has played often in a solo context, with the acoustic swing trio The Swing Monkeys, and the acclaimed Smith/Stern Jazz Duo. He currently teaches at out of his home in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland, CA. He can be seen in jazz bands of all sizes (including with Betsy Stern, Laurent Fourgo, or Michael Carter, to name a few) doing theater work (like Man from La Mancha, Pins and Needles, and even a rock and roll version of The Pirates of Penzance) and even sitting in with the occasional blues band.