Richard Smith, Allen Shadd and the Divebombers at Heartwood Soundstage
Throughout the last year, the Heartwood Soundstage, a wonderful indoor venue which doubles as a recording studio, has struggled to keep music going in the north central Florida area; livestream shows provided some excellent entertainment, but now that things are improving, we can take advantage of the new permanent outdoor stage that was recently installed.
U.K.-born Nashville resident Richard Smith returned to the venue with lots of guests. Smith is a master finger-picker, a legend among guitar players. The late Chet Atkins once stated, “He can play anything I know, only better.”
This show had just about everything in terms of guitar expertise. Along with Smith, we got to hear Allen Shadd, three-time national flatpicking champion, and The Divebombers, featuring George Worthmore, a New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee. And just in case you were missing some flute music, Shadd brought along Kristen Holloway Oliphant, a regular member of the Tampa-area band Gypsy Wind.
Shadd opened up with some solo flatpicking numbers, including an uptempo version of the traditional fiddle tune “Gold Rush.” a wonderful rendering of Doc Watson’s “Doc’s Guitar,” and a surprising version of “Norwegian Wood” that had one local guitar player shaking his head. He added Kenny Baker’s “Jerusalem Ridge” and the classic “Angelina Baker” before calling Richard Smith out to join him on two blazing swing tunes, “Limehouse Blues” and “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
Then Kristen joined him for four songs, including a great version of “St. Anne’s Reel,” and finishing with the pop tune “Wonderful World” and the Orleans chestnut “Dance With Me.” The nuanced interplay of the flute and guitar was a special and unique addition to the night.
The Sarasota-based band The Divebombers were up next. Along with Worthmore, the trio includes veteran Chad Clifford on bass and acoustic guitar player Nat Langston to trade off breaks with Worthmore’s trademark red Telecaster. They did a number of original uptempo blues numbers, worked in Jerry Reed’s “The Claw,” a double dose of Glen Campbell (“Wichita Lineman” and “Gentle on my Mind”), and finished their portion with “Act Naturally” and “Sweet Baby James.” Langston held his own with some great chromatic breaks and pitching in on vocals. Worthmore is a force on his Tele, ripping off hot blues runs and stalking the stage like the professional he is. The Divebombers are a great entertaining band; go out of your way to see them if you can.
Richard Smith started his solo set with some classics, including “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Streets of Laredo.” A huge Jerry Reed fan, he did a classic version of “Struttin’” and continued his genre-busting set. “Georgy Girl,” a Doc Watson-inspired “Black Mountain Rag,” a few slackstring Hawaiian numbers, and a rare vocal… a hilarious look at traveling guitar players. Turning “Swinging on a Star” into “Playing a Guitar (for a Living)”, it struck a chord (sorry about that) with the many musicians in the audience. He added an absolutely drop-dead version of “Here There and Everywhere” before closing out the set with “Georgia” and Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” [Ed. note: He’s NOT sorry!]
At that point he called up the Divebombers for a rousing version of the Jolson jazz standard “Avalon” before calling it a night.
After a long year of pent-up desire for live in-person music, this show was a great way to get back to business in a safe way. The Heartwood has big plans for the new outdoor location, including upcoming shows by Tommy Emmanuel and Someday Honey. It’s a great listening venue, indoors and outdoors.