As a former member of the CBS Records band 8084 who has shared stages with Celine Dion, Jon Bon Jovi and Cyndi Lauper (to name a choice few), singer/songwriter Randy Smith certainly exemplifies the oft-recited idiom of “being in the right place at the right time.”
When it comes to the curious case of his exploits with ’80s glam rocker Aldo Nova, however, the Shelburne Falls native can recall at least two incidents where the polar opposite was the case.
“In addition to being with Aldo, they also both happened in Canada and both involved arrests,” he says from his home in Charlotte, N.C. “We were cleared in both cases, but the first involved us attempting to drive a car Aldo’s ex-wife had given him across the border, and let’s just the say the paperwork wasn’t in order. The second was much scarier. We were in Quebec and just played a gig that paid us in cash. So we are out throwing $100 bills around to buy coffees and other stuff, and unbeknownst to us, there is a counterfeiting ring in town. So they see these two long-hairs, come up to us [with] guns out, yelling, and they don’t speak English. It took eight hours for our translator to arrive, but once he did, we got it straightened out.”
Citing a “180-degree” turn in musical style from his poof-haired past, Smith says he has found fertile sonic soil in softer, acoustically driven fare these days.
He’s tapped several colleagues from session days past, including Hall of Fame fiddler Scott Campbell and 8084 alums Gary Spaulding and Roy Brown, to round out the new sound. And if the name of the supporting cast—The Band of Merry Men—smacks of Sherwood Forest, well, that’s intentional, too.
“At this point in our lives, it’s much more gratifying to give back than try and see how much money we can make,” he explains. “So we try to marry our gigs with charity events. We’ve donated to local battered women’s shelters, fire victims, the renovating of Shelburne Falls Memorial Theater, and much more in recent months.”
Prior to his Nov. 23 engagement at Greenfield’s Arts Block, he says he is attempting to line up free impromptu performances at local homeless shelters to bring some enjoyment to people who might not be able to pay.
“It’s both interesting and a little sad, actually,” he says of the project. “You’d think it would be easy to set up some free gigs, but the initial response from many is like, ‘Okay, so where’s the catch?’ But we eventually explain it and get it done.”
Tix for the Greenfield show are $10 in advance, $12 day of show, and available at http://theartsblock.com.
Staind and delivered: Like many people, Westfield’s Jeff Gilmer has taken to eBay in an effort to unload some unused items from the homestead. Unlike most such items, a goodly number of Gilmer’s wares have been graced by some fairly notable hands in the music biz. Case in point: a rare vintage maple fretboard/top 1976 Gibson Les Paul he recently listed—while a beauty in its own right—also had the distinction of being plucked on several Staind demos and even the Tormented CD sessions.
“I used to keep a couple of Les Pauls around my studio, the Rock Shop, for guys who had shitty guitars to use during recording,” he notes. “So Mike [Mushok, of Staind] used this particular one, as did many area bands back in the day.”
While the auction for that piece was closing around press time (topping out just under the $2,000 mark), Gilmer says to keep an eye out for more celeb-linked musical merchandise in future auctions. He sells under the ebay moniker sellmystuff413.
On a more serious and personal note, the Crawler would like to wish a speedy recovery to Gilmer’s dad, Alfred, who is home resting and reportedly doing well after a recent heart attack. He’s 93 years young.•
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