Jared Nelson Smith
About Jared Nelson Smith
Born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, singer/songwriter Jared Nelson Smith relocated to Los Angeles where, in 2003, he formed the trio Vagenius with singer/keyboardist Juliette Commagere and drummer Joachim Cooder. With their unique, electro-pop sound and hard-driving live show, the group toured relentlessly, building a sizable fan base both locally and nationally. Renaming themselves Hello Stranger in 2006, the group released their self-titled LP, which was co-produced by Ry Cooder (father of drummer Joachim). The album was well-received, and Hello Stranger soon found themselves touring with high-profile acts like Kings of Leon and the Foo Fighters. They released a follow-up EP in 2007, but the group had begun to fracture and disbanded the following year.
Throughout this period, Smith had immersed himself in honing his songcraft and distinctive guitar style, doing occasional session work and even contributing songs to a couple of Ry Cooder's albums. Following Hello Stranger's breakup, he quickly found work composing and recording the score for the 2008 Sundance film Good Dick. With the film score under his belt, Smith set about writing and recording his first proper solo release, 2009's Swimming Around in the Drift. Writing, recording, and performing the album entirely on his own, the talented multi-instrumentalist created an elegant and heartfelt folk-pop record detailing his personal journey from the shores of Lake Superior to his career in Hollywood. Disenchanted with the trappings of L.A., Smith's wanderlust eventually delivered him to the high desert city of Bend, Oregon, where he and his wife Nora formed a new band called Wilderness.
A thematic extension of his solo work, Wilderness developed their dramatic guitar- and organ-led sound performing throughout the Cascades region, eventually releasing their debut LP, Homeward from the Battle, in 2013. The band's follow-up, Escape Was Narrow, appeared two years later as Smith continued to establish himself in the area's music scene. He began working with Americana songwriter, Micah Peterson, whose solo project, Second Son, Smith agreed to produce. The resulting album, The Heat of Devils, appeared in 2016 with Smith also handling lead guitar, bass, keys, and various other instrumental duties. That same year he was enlisted by another Bend-area act, the Gold Rust, to produce and play on their debut album, Hydrology. Smith recorded one more Second Son outing, the 2019 EP 6 Songs, before his concurrent career as a brewer led him to the remote coastal hamlet of Shelter Cove, California. ~ Timothy Monger