Folk Noir, Neo-Folk, Alt-Country, or Southern Gothic – these are all terms that have been used to describe the music of James Curtis Smith. When asked to describe his music, James normally replies, “too folk for the rock folks, too rock for the folk folks.” Whatever label one wants to apply, James remains focused on songwriting, and staying true to his musical and cultural roots.
In a songwriting and performance career spanning decades, James has had many memorable gigs. James has played a Scandinavian open mic. James had busked with street musicians in Germany. James has played in front of a few thousand members of a Mid-Ohio Valley motorcycle club. When he was 19, his band opened for Black Oak Arkansas at a tiny joint in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It's been a crazy, fun ride.
(Somewhat) Recent History
"water, mountains rise and fall
rise and fall with dignity..."
-- Luka Bloom (Dreams in America)
Fall with Dignity came into being in the mid-90’s as James (Flyer, Arbory Hill, Baghouse, Fall With Dignity, WEDGE, They Killed Fritz, Not Troubled by Rain) and his longtime musical collaborator, drummer Todd Jones (Baghouse, Fall With Dignity) were joined by vocalist Jennifer McPeak (Fall With Dignity, Falling You, Von Isley) and a Spinal-Tap-esque series of bass players. Playing to larger and larger crowds, the band released its eponymous “Fall With Dignity,” just as the marriage of Jennifer and James imploded - taking the band with it. The release went on to reach Number One at the original MP3.com, and garnered regular airplay on regional college radio. James wrote all songs, and played all guitars on the recordings. Although pressured to find a new vocalist and continue as Fall With Dignity, James and Todd mutually agreed to move on to new projects. James' next effort, Not Troubled by Rain... again saw Indie chart success - but no band or live shows followed.
A little more than 20 years have passed since Fall With Dignity made their stage and studio debut. James kept writing all those years. However, it was only in the last five years that he took the stage again. 2018 sees the earnest renewal of stage and studio. It begins anew with excitement and anticipation, and the belief that songwriters don’t grow old – they just have better stories to tell.
The Look Ahead
Having fallen profoundly in love with lo-fi, one microphone recording, James moves ahead with honest recordings of good songs with no smoke, no mirrors. From James' modest atelier in northeast Ohio, the songs spring forth - unfettered and earnest. The hope is to sneak friends and mentors into this space, and give you music without constraints.