A friend of mine recently sang at the infamous open mic night at BlueBird Cafe in Nashville, TN. While there, he met many musicians, wanna-bes, producers and agents. One person that struck a chord was 16-year old Casey Lee Smith who came down from Arizona to sing at the BlueBird. While my friend claimed Casey was amazing, I was skeptical being that he is 16.
Always looking for the opportunity to review, I paid a visit to Casey’s web site, www.caseyleesmith.com. The second I clicked on his music, I was touched. In fact, it’s playing in the background as I blog and four of his songs are already on my ITunes (and I’m a discerning downloader). Heartfelt lyrics, friendly vocals, and harmonious instruments leave your toes tapping and heart smiling. Casey’s style is part country, rock, blues all fused into one unique sound. But don’t let his age fool you – he appeals to teens, adults and everyone in between! The younger crowd will appreciate his blue-eyed, curly -haired charm and the more mature audience will connect with his spot-on lyrics.
My favorite song is “Losing You,” a song about a broken relationship. As Casey writes: “When you’ve screwed up your relationship, there’s nothing to do but point to where the blame belongs. Me.” “Losing You” is a ballad for anyone who’s felt that regret after a hard-to-get-over break up. Grading Girl predicts this will be number one on the charts someday soon!! “Chasin’ Tin Cans” is a fun, raucous, rock song written about, of all things, running barrels. Any woman, however, will feel empowered singing along to the lyrics “She’s moving like a rocket ship, blood surging through her vains.” A country “Barracuda” song! “Never Stood Taller” is a celebratory song about his grandfather being baptized as an adult and proclaims “He never stood taller than when he’s on his knees. He never was stronger than when his head is bowed.” Very spiritually powerful . . . and what a beautiful subject to write about. That’s what is amazing about Casey’s songs – the maturity in his lyrics shine through so that we learn something after listening. His songs help us reflect on our own experiences, misgivings, and triumphs.
According to his site, Casey has been singing and playing instruments at a very early age . . . piano, banjo, guitar are among those he brings to life. He attends the Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics. It takes dedication, persistence, and discipline to harbor your talent from very young on. Grading Girl gives Casey Lee Smith an A for remarkable early talent and an undoubtedly bright future. Sounding this polished at age 16, I dare imagine what he will sound like in a few years. Casey Lee Smith – memorize that name. You’ll be hearing it again.
October 26th update: Grading Girl just received word that Casey Lee Smith won the Colgate County Showdown. Now it’s on to Regionals and then Grand Ole Opry, here he comes! Like I said, “Watch out, Jonas Bros!”
What makes a person true to himself, truly authentic, is when he takes his passion and acts on it. It’s when he isn’t trying to be who he thinks others may want him to be but, rather, he expresses himself creatively and freely. Furthermore, he takes great fulfillment in sharing that expression. There is an up-and-coming musician who is that person. With his searing lyrics, soaring vocals, and driving rhythms, the passion is evident. Strums of an acoustic guitar, harmonica, drums, and piano all stream seamlessly together. Harmonies lift hairs and bring up gooseflesh. Unexpected chord changes cause you to stop and LISTEN. Creative accompaniments such as loose change or leg slapping add unique, dimensional elements. This is what you hear when you listen to the music of Darryl Markette.
Darryl’s first release, “Rain on Thee,” on iTunes. Check out all of his releases!
I can’t help but listen to his latest release, “She Wants Love,” over and over. His sound has a part rock, part country, even part bluesy feel that projects what Darryl does best – take a bad situation and pour it out for the world to absorb and commiserate. His songs tell real tales of love and loss, but they’re sung with such passion and commitment that the message becomes more about learning and living than losing. The songs leave you with something to ponder over rather than something to pine over.
Singers and songwriters are expected to be deep in a cliched caricature of anguish. Somehow, Darryl goes beyond that to a deeper place. Each song is musically individual enough so that he escapes a cookie-cutter oh-woe-is-me sound. “Never Said Goodbye” is a jaunty tribute to his beloved dog, Hunter. “Lost in Time” is an alternative ballad with piano and harmonica tracks that crescendos gradually until it pierces the heart. Completely opposite, “Rockstar” has that sing-along, nothing can stop me now mood everyone can relate to. You hear a crack in his voice in the haunting “Have Faith” as he sings “How do you forget your biggest regret when all you can do is weep.” What makes his music not just good but perfect for soothing the soul is during moments, such as in the “I Keep on Waiting” finale, when the toe-tapping whistling will have you humming for hours afterward. DMarkette’s music makes your heart sing.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Darryl is tenaciously taking his musical message across the country. He recently performed at Gold Pan Saloon in Colorado and made his much anticipated Los Angeles debut at Hollywood’s Whisky A Go-Go. See GG’s post “Part Time Cowboy Full Time Rockstar Rides to L.A. Better yet, visit Darryl Markette’s website, dmarkette.com, to experience his original music firsthand, sample his covers that include a handful arguably better than the originals, view past concert videos, and find out about upcoming performances. Example performances include Darryl’s annual event on his birthday, May 5th. But rather than a birthday celebration, Darryl raises funds to fight breast cancer. Pinko-de-Mayo, as he cleverly termed it, has proven a ravingly popular success over the past four years. [See GG’s press releases for details for Pinko de Mayo : Chicago’s Most Promising Rocker, Darryl Markette, Holds Pinko de Mayo and Chicago’s Hottest Rocker Paints ChiTown Pink for Pinko de Mayo and Darryl Markette Paints ChiTown Pink.] (2012 was his best Pinko yet, with 500+ guests. His efforts just keep growing!) Darryl’s very last Pinko, Pinko V of 2013, was a very different yet just as successful fest – an outdoor fest – with all proceeds generously going to his countless contributions to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Grading Girl gives Darryl Markette’s music an A+ for touch your heart lyrics, sear your soul vocals, and seduce your ears guitar chords.
And here’s my very favorite cover by Darryl Markette!! I love this . . .