What got you hooked on rock & roll as a kid? Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those powerful vocals of Ronnie Van Zant drew me in.
What was the first concert you ever attended and what strikes you about it today? Jakyl opening for ZZ Top! I was 17 years old and the energy of that show was overwhelming!
What was your first public performance? how did it go? Well my dad (Oliver Smith) was a southern gospel bluegrass singer and performed in different churches so I would say my first performance was more than likely with him at one of those churches. As far as the first real performance that I remember; I was in the 5th grade and performed Lee Greenwoods “God Bless the USA” for a school program. There is a video of that out there somewhere …lol
Musicians are funny about their instruments, sometimes even superstitious — tell us about your relationship with guitars over the years; what is your stand by go-to 6-string today? I’ve never really considered myself a guitar player. I’m more of a vocalist but a good guitar is key in having a good performance. I played a Taylor guitar for a while and I beat it to hell playing the honky tonks in Nashville. When it was time for a new one I went with the Seagull that I currently play. It is a great sounding guitar without the hefty price tag.
How does the song-writing process work for you? has it evolved over time or do you have a tried & true formula you try to stick with? I haven’t really been writing that much the last few years. Just a line or two here and there but when I was writing consistently it was just a matter of what I was feeling mostly. Occasionally someone would say something that would spark an Idea and I would use my corny sense of humor to write something like “Nothing but your snuggie on”
Do you have any advice (cheap tricks) for your artists looking to connect more with the audience when playing live? Be true to who you are as a musician and you are going to connect with someone or a group of people. Don’t be surprised if someone asks you to sing something that just doesn’t fit you and if you can bare to sing it then sing it and get right back to what you love. They will appreciate you for it.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows? The craziest thing that ever happened at one of my shows other than having the drummer bring a dancing Zombie Doll on stage would have to be being interrupted by Jermaine Jackson while playing at Legends Corner in Nashville so he could promote a tv show that he was filming.
Given your experience as a finalist on CMT’s Can You Duet in 2008 , what advice would you give to a young artists looking to take a shot on a similar live contest like American Idol or The Voice? I would say if you’re gonna go for one of shows just be prepared to take some criticism and don’t let a “no” answer stop you from moving forward with your career. Sometimes being true to who you are isn’t always what they are looking for so you just have to keep on keeping on.
Some artists hate the question but who do folks liken you too most and how do you feel about it? You know it’s been a while since someone has compared me to another artist but I use to get Billy Dean a lot when I was in Nashville. I’ll take that as a compliment.
What are you working on and what’s your view of 2018 from here? Right now I’m just working on being a better performer and trying to gig as much as possible. I’m working with a group of great players and we call ourselves the Douglas Fine Line. I would like to play more with these guys this year and get into some bigger venues and festivals. Right now I’m just working on being a better performer and trying to gig as much as possible.