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Mindy Smith - Keswick Theatre - Philadelphia, PA
Concert Review and Interview by Jim Moulton

The Keswick Theatre is a nice old movie theatre that is used for concerts only now, seating about 500, on this hot muggy June night, the place filled up fairly full for Mindy and main attraction Mary Chapin Carpenter. Mindy did not have her full band with her, just Lex Smith on mandolin and guitar for one song. Mindy is popular here in Philly as she has been here four or five times. The lights went down and the crowd roared. For the next forty five minutes, you could hear a pin drop as the audience was pulled into her performance. She started out singing the popular "Jolene" with just Lex playing guitar and her singing. 

She bantered with the crowd during the set in between songs, also telling the story behind the song. Mindy switched off between two acoustic guitars each song all night and Lex stuck to playing Mandolin the rest of the show, sometimes making it sound like the lead guitar fills on her CD which he played. The crowd applauded one break he took during a song. 

Mindy's songs are very cerebral and passionate. She sang a couple of new ones which were nice with a folksy vibe. The Sound Quality of the PA. was incredibly good, getting everything just right. Someone yelled out "Mindy, you sound better live", to which the crowd roared. One thing that I noticed was the energy and raw emotion she puts into each song. When the crowd recognized the start of a song, they would clap. Her vocals are so sweet, yet have a very emotive edge. Some songs that she did were "Raggedity Ann", "Hurricane", "Fighting For it All", "One Moment More" and ending with the popular "Come To Jesus". Her songs show a very transparent, fragile, but gutsy being. She says that her songs are very personal and her way of coping in a sense. Mindy is a very talented finger-style guitarist. After her set, she must have signed autographs in the back for at least twenty minutes. 

I watched the first few songs of country, folk troubadour Mary Chapin Carpenter. With her full country rock band she took the show up a notch as she did a great job playing lots of her popular hits. She got the crowd going too and had a very hot band that plain out rocked. 

I headed up into the upper realms of the Keswick to find Mindy's dressing room area which was several flights up. It was small, but nice, with some friends and Lex's family there. I must say, her entourage were very friendly and down to earth. 

In person, Mindy is a very natural beauty, dressed in jeans and a simple top. I had some questions ready, but just decided to let the conversation flow. I asked her about the Major labels that had interest in her and how she picked Vanguard instead, a smaller label. She said that she really had burned no bridges, but that all of Nashville was very supportive of her, talking a bit about Tony Brown especially. I told her that I admired his work, but couldn't get her to be committal about who would produce her next CD which she plans to go back into the studio to start in three to four months. She did say that She was sticking with Vanguard Records.

We went off a bit talking about Shelby Lynne who I found we both liked. We talked about Shelby a little, she said she had something planned down the road with her. 

I mentioned that for a small label "Vanguard" put a lot of money into her first CD. She said it was actually a pretty low budget affair. She co produced it with Steve Buckingham and said her first CD had to be done that way. When I mentioned some of the talent like Bryan Sutton (guitarist) and mastering done by Doug Sax (the best in my book), Mindy replied, well, those things we didn't skimp on. 

I told her how I thought the sound quality had been excellent, she stated that quality was very important in her music.

I asked her about material for the new CD and she simply said it would be picked from the catalog. Mindy has been a songwriter well before she recorded the first CD and it looks like the music is there, the job will be to pick the right songs. In our conversation, Mindy was very candid and accommodating. About then, her manager interrupted and said they needed to plan for the next nights show. If Mindy keeps "Fighting For It All", she has a long career ahead of her. 

Go visit her at: www.mindysmith.net

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