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Hal Smith

Hal Smith took up the drums in 1963, and became a full-time professional musician in 1978. He was influenced by hearing Ben Pollack, Nick Fatool, Wayne Jones and Fred Higuera in live performance and has studied the recordings of Sid Catlett, Dave Tough, Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Jo Jones, Minor Hall, Andrew Hilaire, Vic Berton, Johnny Wells, Stan King, Harry Dial, Morey Feld and many others.

He has played with many of the best Traditional Jazz and Swing bands including the Dukes of Dixieland, Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band, Butch Thompson Trio, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band, Climax Jazz Band, Yerba Buena Stompers, the Fat Babies, Campus Five, Rhythm Serenaders and others. Hal has also played Western Swing (Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition; Jason Roberts Band); Rockabilly (Memphis Speed Kings, the Hayriders, Gino and the Lone Gunmen, Cash Kings, Big Rig Deluxe) and Blues (James Harman, Jontavious Willis, Junior Watson, Nathan James/Ben Hernandez, Blue Largo, Johnny Rover, Billy Watson).

Hal has performed on Minnesota Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” Texas Public Radio’s “Riverwalk – Live From The Landing,” numerous television programs and on over 200 recordings.

Hal was one of the founders of America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society’s Adult Traditional Jazz Camp, which began in 1995.  He has also been on the faculty of the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp, lecturing on Jazz history, supervising student ensembles, performing with the faculty band and giving private instruction on drums.

For over a decade, Hal produced CDs for the George H. Buck Jr. Jazz Foundation and the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation and wrote liner notes for most of those releases.

Currently Hal lives in Searcy, Arkansas and travels across the U.S. for musical engagements. Some of the groups Hal plays with include Tim Laughlin’s New Orleans All-Stars, the Kris Tokarski Trio (New Orleans), Miss Jubilee and the Yas Yas Boys (St. Louis) and Grammy Award winner Floyd Domino’ All-Stars (Austin). Hal’s own bands include The New Orleans Night Owls (seen below) and the Mortonia Seven.

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