Saturday, February 5, 2011

Darden Smith delights
at Wheeler Arts Center

Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith was the latest performer to grace the stage at the Wheeler Community Arts Center in Indianapolis on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, as part of the long-running Indy Acoustic Cafe Series. It was one of the most enjoyable shows I'd ever attended, and I think a lot of that had to do with Smith's entertaining "stories behind the compositions" before he actually played the tunes. He handles bumps along the way nonchalantly -- such as when the battery in his electric guitar died in mid-song. Some performers might have freaked and unraveled; Smith simply called out to series coordinator Mark Butterfield to ask him to retrieve a new one. People in the audience felt like they were right there with him, rallying to fix the problem. It was impressive.

Butterfield changed the seating layout in the performance room of the center, which lies about a block and a half southwest of the namesake fountain in Fountain Square, one of Indianapolis' six designated cultural districts. The new layout -- putting the stage in the middle of one of the much longer two walls of the rectangular-shaped hall -- not only brought a lot more people closer to the performer, but it also introduced some wonderful angles for a photographer to exploit the neat stage lighting.

Smith is on tour promoting his new CD, "Marathon," and spent the first half of his performance playing songs from the new release. My favorites from the CD are "The Truth of the Rooster" (love the guitar chords, soft trumpet notes and piano trickles throughout, and the lyrical story of deception), the rhythmic "Bull by the Horns" and the stark, haunting "That Water." He used the post-intermission set to play requests from his repertoire, which dates back to 1984.

These images are from the Jan. 29 show; to see a full gallery of images from the performance, follow this link: Darden Smith at Wheeler Arts Center.


Above and below: Smith, giving the audience the story behind another of his new songs, and sprinkling humorous anecdotes along the way.

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