An offshoot of (mim-uh-zeen) and other loss leaders, with an emphasis on my music collection and other things music related.

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Location: Midwest, United States

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Smarties (a haphazard mystery story)

It all started with this…

A simple cassette tape demo, found in the late 90’s while scrounging around Love Garden Sounds, in Lawrence, KS, with three songs: “He Fixes Things”, “Day Off”, “Is Your Daddy Gonna Pay For My Broken Heart?” Very tight playing, uptempo, infectious pop – from Springfield, MO!

Naturally, there’s no other info on the tape, other than a phone number that tips me that it’s from Springfield, but the number doesn’t lead to any info about the band.

Frustration over a dead end… nothing more is heard, except for the occasional net search that yields more dead ends – until one search in 2005 leads me to the web page of Big Smith, a ‘hillbilly band’ from Springfield, Mo, and looking over the bio pages confirms that one of the members was part of The Smarties – Jay Williamson.

So we then go to the Big Smith forum board to pose some questions:

Tue May 31, 2005

A few years back while at Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, KS, I picked up a bunch of cassette tapes that the store was selling - among those tapes was a 3 song demo for The Smarties

I loved the songs, but didn't know anything about the band (I had just moved back to the area after about 15 years), and couldn't find anything... I'm guessing that they disbanded in '97/'98?

Every so often I'll go out and do some searches, in the hopes of finding out more about the band - which has led me to this message board for Big Smith.

Mainly, I'm just curious - I LOVE the three songs and wonder if anything ever got committed to vinyl.

Thu Jun 02, 2005 (Jay Williamson’s reply)

Wow, a Smarties question. Never expected one of those!

Well, the band started out in the early 90's. Myself on bongos, Craig Bostick on surf guitar and Sheri Hurst on vocals/tambourine. We stayed that way for a few years until Mark Bilyeu started helping out on bass. Not long after, I retired and Kristy McInnis started playing drums for them. Mark left and was replaced by Matt Netzer. The lineup stayed like that until they broke up about the time you mentioned.

The tape you mentioned was done soon after I left the band, I think.

There was a full-length cassette called Beach Blanket Bongo, but I doubt you'll be able to find any copies… There is also a CD entitled Play It! that might be floating around out there. I'm not sure what record stores might have it, but Craig was from St. Louis, so there might be some there or here in Springfield

Finally! Solid information and names to pursue… I notice that Jay’s bandmate, Mark, also put in time with The Smarties – so following the timeline that Jay provided, the line-up of the band at the time that the demo was recorded was Sheri Hurst, Kristy McInnis, Craig Bostick and Matt Netzer.

Googling the first two albums doesn’t produce any useful results, but then probably nothing will come of that short of a thorough search of record stores in MO…

So I start with names… Sheri Hurst, who apparently is still in the Springfield area and in demand as a vocalist… recent projects include singing backup vocals on Brian Capp’s WALK THROUGH WALLS, sharing vocal chores w/The Bottlerockets on their cut on Bloodshot Records Wanda Jackson tribute HARD HEADED WOMAN: A CELEBRATION OF WANDA JACKSON.

She and Matt Netzer were in Honky Tonk Chateau, which produced one album; and both scored a film shot in Springfield, WINDING ROADS, with James Marsters in a supporting role. Currently Netzer is part of a trio, Sweetwater Abilene, with Brian Acevedo and J.R. Top, with a CD available.

So most of The Smarties line-up went towards their roots and are still near their home. As for the other two…

Kristy McInnis was part of what became The Morells until she took off for the West Coast and became a member of The Delphines (with Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s) and The Randies. She was part of The Dark Horse Project, but it appears she’s no longer a current member.

Craig Bostick is now in Boston, currently in the band Spoilsport, and is doing art, design and photography work.

So, what does this all add up to... not a hell of a lot, come to think of it. There's no grand pay-off to this story, other than the fact of one mystery cassette leading to a lot of music, ranging from country to hard rock. And maybe hoping some Smarties fan may come across this and share some love of this obscure band...

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Blogger missy said...

Thanks for the post! I love the band, too. At least some of what they did. I found Play It! at a yard sale and fell in love with about half of it. I wondered whether the band had continued to work together or what. Sounds as though they have all continued their careers, albeit with others.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

I have a copy of Six Five Skate Zero Four (a benefit album released in Springfield that a friends band was on) and The Smarties play Undercover Girl on it. I only really got into it a few years ago. Thanks for uncovering info, now I know more info to find their album.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Lincoln said...

I grew up around the corner from Matt, and of course have my copy of "play It" on my shelf. Great band to see in person, good energy and emotion. They did a fun cover of "Brand New Cadillac". I miss them, after reading this I think I call Matt and say hello.

- Lincoln

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Jay, Sherri and Craig (although we called him Krog at work, since there were two craigs working at Domino's in Springfield at the time) I heard the band when they first started and opened for another band that Jay was in called Gypsy Scholar (that was a great band!) I enjoyed watching them in the springfield scene, I lost touch of them when I moved but do keep in touch with Jay and see the new band he is in, Big Smith. I'm still searching for a Gypsy Scholar tape, as mine is wore out, I'm glad they are all still using their musical talents.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Nina permata sari said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the band too and also learned of them too late. An inlaw from Springfield introduced them them to me around 2005. We were joking about whose college band was better, and he pulled out a cd he bought locally, and well, he won. Lol My band was "That statue moved" from the early ninties KC Westport scene. (I still love them too). Anyway, great post for a band that should have gotten a lot more air time.

1:20 PM  

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