Big Smith

About Big Smith

Hailing from Springfield, MO, Big Smith blends bluegrass, gospel, and acoustic country sounds with Southern-accented rock & roll into a good-naturedly eclectic mixture that has won the band a loyal audience in the South and Midwest, thanks to frequent touring and an energetic live show. Formed in 1996, Big Smith is a family affair -- the group includes two sets of brothers, Mark Bilyeu (guitar) and Jody Bilyeu (mandolin and keyboards), as well as Jay Williamson (percussion) and Mike Williamson (bass), all of whom happen to cousins, as is soundman and fifth member Rik Thomas. Inspired by the Appalachian gospel and dance music they grew up with, the members of Big Smith started as an acoustic "hillbilly" quartet; with time, electric guitars, keyboards, and occasional horns began to make their way into the band's repertoire, and Thomas joined the Bilyeu and Williamson brothers to help handle the band's increasingly elaborate touring schedule and occasionally join the on-stage jams. Through the band's own MayApple Records label, the group managed to release four albums in its first seven years together -- two studio sets, Big Smith and Big Rock, and two very different live recordings, a collection of vintage Appalachian gospel songs called Big Smith Family and Friends Live at Lonestar and a raucous two-disc document of a more typical live show, Gig. ~ Mark Deming

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