Valerie Smith has released her latest album with her touring band, Liberty Pike, along with a debut single from the project on Bell Buckle Records.
Small Town Heroes is her first new record since The Human Condition in 2014. That last was a full-fledged concept project, a theme carried over to a lesser degree on the new one as well, linking together songs that capture aspects of small town life and the simple adventures of everyday people.
It’s also the first with her newly-revamped edition of Liberty Pike. Unlike previous iterations of the band, which have been based in middle Tennessee, this bunch is comprised of musicians living in the greater Washington, DC area. And it boasts at least one legitimate bluegrass hero, in bass player Tom Gray, ex of both The Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene.
Also featured are Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes on mandolin, her husband Wally Hughes on fiddle, and Joe Zauner on banjo, with Val on guitar and lead vocals. And instead of bringing everyone to Nashville to make this album as had been the precedent, she headed to Maryland and Tom Mindte’s Patuxent Studios in Rockville.
Smith says that she chose songs to reflect her theme of Small Town Heroes.
It’s a strong, soulful and timeless collection of bluegrass songs, with a lyrical undertone of challenges that people have to face every day – economic, family and personal.”
The first single comes from that most staple of bluegrass idioms, the train song, with Something About A Train from Mitch Matthews, Dawn Kenney, and David Morris. This song was the first place winner in the bluegrass division of the 2015 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest.
Here’s a brief taste…