Alameda's four best songwriters come to the Rhythmix stage for an evening of original music and the stories behind them.
Alameda is blessed with a rich musical community that has attracted a number of talented songwriters to the island. Each has a fan following in the area, but more importantly they are hailed by local musicians and songwriters for their skills in composing great and memorable songs.
On September 15th, you will be entertained by four of the best – Earl Rivard, Steve Witt, Jamey Pyke and Guy Smith, covering genres from rock, blues, Latin, country and Americana.
Earl J. Rivard
Earl J. Rivard is Alameda’s home-grown Troubadour. Nearly every Alamedan knows Earl, as he regularly performs at any number of venues from street festivals, coffee houses, clubs and churches, to name but a few. A phenomenal musician, Rivard has two albums to his credit – Troubadour Blue (2006) and Underground Railroad (2010), in addition to vocal and instrumental contributions to nearly a dozen other recordings in a variety of genres and configurations.
Rivard absolutely mesmerizes audiences, whether performing alone with his guitar or fronting his spectacular band. His vocal range masterfully spans a range from the sweetest ballads and the roughest rockers. Rivard has been known to compose and sing in English, Spanish, and Italian and confidentially blends influences from Latin, jazz, Americana and dirty blues.
Born in Manhattan, Jamey migrated to New Jersey, coming of age in the dawn of East Coast Rock’ n Roll. Jamey’s older brother submerged him with the entire rock/folk collection from Beatles to Springsteen to Dylan, with Miles Davis and Herb Albert tossed in for variety. Jamey grabbed a guitar and beat drums through high school, but hung his hat on six strings and writing songs after hearing Dylan’s "Desire" album. Tired of the cold weather Jamey flew into SFO and never looked back, landing and staying in Alameda. After fronting an original rock band (that like most bands broke-up way too soon), Jamey switched to solo guitar work blowing the harp. He fronts Alameda’s own Beer Detectives.
Music has always been at the center of Steve Witt’s life. Despite a detour to the clarinet in first grade, it was as a teenager and because of his best friend’s band that Witt’s music went into high gear. Although he didn’t play guitar, bass or drums he longed to be in that band. So he did what many songwriters did in their early days – he bought a cheap pawn shop electric guitar and taught himself to play it in three weeks. With sore and blistered fingers, and over the objection of the other band members, Steve joined “The Tyrants.”
Witt’s early songwriter influences included Marty Stuart, Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt, They inspired Witt’s songs, giving them a definite country feel. More recently Steve has been seduced by Kelly Joe Phelps, Steve Earle and especially California’s own Dave Alvin. Alvin's visual story telling approach along with his varied musical styles has slightly shifted Witt away from country to the Americana genre and draws from his southern family roots.
After seven years of playing in rock bands and performing professionally in Bay Area night clubs, Witt finally got a day job. With limited time but a greater opportunity for musical experimentation, Witt started playing solo classical guitar. As a musician Steve also plays bass, mandolin, banjo and cello. He began writing and recording his own songs, performing wherever a live mic could be found, then dragging the tunes into the studio. Witt has recorded over one hundred songs and assembled “Grimey Blue”, a trio to take those tunes on the road.
Guy Smith grew-up herding cattle and surfing in Florida, claiming to be the only long-haired cowboy to walk out alive from the Kissimmee livestock auction (they didn’t know what to think). Thanks to an older sister who listed to classic Beatles, Joplin and Hendrix at very high volumes, and Smith’s three musical awakenings (Tina Turner, Allman Brothers and Jethro Tull), Smith has yet to settle on any musical style and happily bounces from one genre to the next while composing.
Despite being raised in agriculture, Georgia born and landlocked in central Virginia for too long, his rock roots were permanently stained with country blues, paying perpetual homage to the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Cash and songwriters that are even more disreputable. During Smith’s Alameda days, he has (dis)graced such bands as the Beer Detective and Gutter Smoke, turning them toward the sacred twanging light. Smith also launched Alameda’s first songwriter’s open mic at the Fireside Lounge.
If Smith can be said to settle musically, he is of late squarely in the country/blues fusion. His tunes reek of Tom Waits beautiful malady story lines and Uncle Tupelo’s delta tragedy. Recent works cover bases from a soldiers lament (rock) to death by alcohol (blues) and redneck romance (country). Smith has had the odd and rare honor of having his name and songs mentioned in verse by Bay Area songwriters.
Drinks & Concessions will be available at the show