Jesse Smathers is definitely a bluegrass man. And he comes by it naturally, with both his grandfather and his great uncle, Harold and Luke Smathers, being major contributors to traditional music in Jesse’s native North Carolina. In fact, the two were honored in 1993 with a North Carolina Heritage Award.
Their influence had a young Jesse picking up a guitar when he was 11 years old, and the mandolin at 15. While still in high school he won the guitar championship at the Virginia Folk Music Association contest, and the next year he was on the road performing with Jame King. His next move was to Nothin’ Fancy, and in 2015 he joined up with Lonesome River Band. Smathers came into the band to play mandolin and sing, but has since switched to guitar.
The IBMA honored him in 2017 with the Momentum Vocalist Award, given to artists in the early stages of their career, and last week a debut, self-titled solo album was released as an independent project.
Along with the CD dropping, Jesse has a new single to share, Under The Weather, written by Brink Brinkman. Smathers says that he picked it for its old time sound.
“Brink sent me a handful of songs, and Under the Weather stood out immediately. When I heard the lyric and melody, it was so reminiscent of the first generation bluegrass that I love so much.”
Jesse sings the lead and plays guitar and mandolin, with support from Jonathan Dillon on banjo, Gaven Largent on reso-guitar, Joe Hanabach on bass, and Jason Carter and Mike Hartgrove on twin fiddles. Patrick Robertson and Jessie Baker sang harmony.
It sounds like a waltz number you might have heard years ago from Flatt & Scruggs or The Stanley Brothers.
Have a listen…
Under The Weather and the full Jesse Smathers album are available now from popular download and streaming services online. Audio CDs can be ordered directly from the artist web site.
Radio programmers can get the tracks via AirPlay Direct.