Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Summer of Love, New Studio, 2 Requests

Just a few things to report. First of all, since I was talking about the 40th anniversary of the "Summer of Love" in a previous post, I though some of you might be interested in knowing that there will be a free concert in San Francisco Golden Gate Park’s Speedway Meadows between 10 AM and 6 PM. Confirmed acts as of July 9 include: Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Lester Chambers (from Chambers Brothers), Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jesse Colin Young (from the Youngbloods), Jerry Miller Band (from Moby Grape) featuring Tyran Porter and Dale Okerman (from the Doobie Brothers) and Fuzzy John Oxendine (from the Sons of Champlin) , Banana (from the Youngbloods), Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek (from the Doors), San Francisco’s First Family of Rock (TBA), Brian Auger, Nick Gravenites Band with David Laflamme, Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer, Chris and Lorin of the Rowan Brothers, The Alameda All Stars (from Gregg Allman band), Brad Jenkins, Terry Haggerty (from the Sons of Champlin), Tony Lindsay (Santana), Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, George Michalski - Pete Sears Dueling Keys, Freddie Roulette , Ron Thompson , The Charlatans, Leigh Stephens (Blue Cheer), Greg Douglas (from Steve Miller), Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship), Essra Mohawk (from Mothers of Invention), Barry “The Fish” Melton, All Night Flight featuring David Denny and Steve McCarty (from Steve Miller), Jack King (from Cold Blood) and Dale Ockerman (from Doobie Brothers ), Merl Saunders (supporting the event), Squid B. Vicious with Buddy Miles, Jim Post (Friend and Lover, Siegel Schwall Blues Band), Fayette Hauser and the Cocketts, Terrance Hallinan (former SF DA) Ruth Weiss (Beat Poet), Richard Eastman (marijuana initiative), Lenore Kandel (Beat Poet), Paul “Lobster” Wells, Dr Hip (Eugene Schoenfeld), Artie Kornfeild (Producer of Woodstock), Wavy Gravy, Mouse man (Bagpipes), Leigh Davidson (Height Ashbery Medical Clinic), Bruce Latimer (Bruce Latimer show), Rabbi Joseph Langer, Bruce Barthol (Mime Troup), Doug Green, Howard Hesseman (schedule permitting), Benjamin Hernandez (Harts hands and Elders), American Indigenous people’s, Agnes Pilgrim and 13 Grandmas (schedule permitting), Lakota War Pony’s, Merle Tendoy (6 th generation of Sacagawea ) Shonie, Harry Riverbottom (Chippewa), Chief Sunne Reyna, Iroquois Tribe, Dakota Tribe, Seminole Tribe, Emit Powell and the Gospel Elites. A web cast of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 40th Anniversary Concert will be streamed throughout the day on the Apple QuickTime website.

I already made my hotel reservation. If you are interested, act quickly because rooms in the area are almost completely booked already.

Also, I got my new digital recording studio up and running, but now I realize that I have a lot to learn in order to maximize it's potential. I ordered two books and a video, and will soon begin the learning phase. After that, I plan to take my time and come up with an album that everyone should like. It will be musically superior to my previous work and the arrangements will be more artistic. I really think that the new CD will take me to the next level. I'm also available to record other bands, if you know of any. Or I can do demo tapes for songwriters.

I just wanted to let you know that these blog and/or mailing list communications are for amusement and informal communication only, and are not to be taken too seriously. I recently had an incident with someone on my mailing list that too something I said the wrong way and then used the information against me causing a big mess that I haven't been able to resolve yet. So have fun reading my ramblings, enjoy, but check with me before you quote me on anything!

One more thing - The last time I checked, there was only one response to the blog postings. What good is a blog if it's only one sided? So come on everybody - post your comments, and then let's comment on each others comments until we have a real community thing going here!

Monday, July 16, 2007

My new directions - Please stay with me as I grow!

I hope everyone on my mailing list have found their way over to this weblog. I have some new information to pass on, and as I stated before, I do not intend to send out any more emails. Also, this "blog" is for anyone to use - you don't have to be on the mailing list to participate. So if you just stumbled in on this while wandering around the Internet, feel welcome to participate!

First item of business: After last weekend at the De Oro Mine Company, I have decided that I do not want to play any more shows this year. This means that any future shows that you may have been invited to are cancelled. I'm doing this for a number of reasons; one, I could play my ass off at one of these shows, and who would notice? None of you were there, were you? So why bother? Two, even though my arthritis is under control and no longer affects my guitar playing, it does hurt me a lot to haul around 3/4 ton of musical equipment, set it up and tear it down. After a 2-gig weekend, I can hardly walk for two days afterward. And the small amount of money I make on local bookings is just simply not worth the pain. Reason number three, I'm used to playing for a concert audience that knows my music, pays attention, listens, sings along, etc. In bars, all the people want to seem to do is drink, play pool, cuss and show off. A garage band is all the entertainment they need. People don't even seem to dance any more like they used to. And the fourth reason is that this is a good time to break away from my old routine and begin working on the next evolution of my music. Now that I have received all the pieces for my new digital recording studio, I want to set it up and begin recording some of the best music possible - something that hasn't been heard since the likes of St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! If I can come up with a nice product, I can hopefully reach a mass market, and then I will be able to have the kind of budget necessary to play the bigger shows. I'll even be able to hire someone to haul and set up my equipment so I can remain "pain free!" This has to happen sometime, and I think I am ready to reach for the next level. If I don't make a clean break from the old ways and just "go for it," then it will never happen.

I do have some plans for the meantime. As I reported earlier, we sadly lost our drummer, Dave Dinsmoor, last month to heart disease. (If you haven't seen my memorial tribute page yet, go to and learn more about this remarkable person.) Dave will be impossible to replace, so I'm not even going to try. I would have to go to New York, Las Vegas or Nashville to find a musician of that caliber. I think that I would instead like to play some gigs with other bands. One band in particular has approached me with the idea, and I think it would be fun to go out and play "their" songs for a change. I look forward to having a lot of fun doing this.

I also want to begin to thank the Lord for the talent he has given me. He has convinced me that I may be wasting my talent by not following what he has in mind for me, so I plan to devote a lot of time to writing and performing praise music. The timing could not have been better, because over the last few weeks, I have had several conversations with an old friend and professional musician, Pastor Howard Kischassey. He wants to become more active musically, and he has a "circuit" of gospel performances that we could participate in. I hope to see something nice come out of our discussions. Who knows, some day you might see me up there in your church singing and playing guitar! I’ve thought about this before, but I’ve never gotten the call. Maybe I wasn’t good enough. I believe that my present singing and guitar playing are the best I’ve ever done, so last Saturday, I heard the Word “It’s time.” I haven’t been following the praise music scene, but I have seen and heard some excellent entertainers in this genre. I’ll have to study the music for a while, and then see what I can contribute. I imagine that the style will be the same as I play now, which is sort of a country-folk rock with a pop beat and an occasional blues/jazz feel. Of course, I wouldn’t mind doing some of that great old-time bluegrass gospel music with the fast pickin’ and the great harmonies!

And then, hopefully (keep your fingers crossed for me), I'll be back sometime next year on a new concert tour promoting my new CD, with a brand new kick-ass band and an awesome stage show! Stay tuned to this blog site, because I'll tell you every step of the way how it's going!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Remembering the Summer Of Love while planning for the future

Thank you, Ed, for being the first to respond to this blog. One of the reasons I switched from the mailing list to the weblog format is that I wanted to get more 2-way interaction. I hate just talking about myself; I want to hear from all of you. My whole act is based on interaction, so if you're not happy, I'm not happy. Feel welcome to use this forum to freely express your thoughts.

I wanted to write a little today about the fact that this summer is of much significance to me; it is the 40th anniversary of the famous "Summer Of Love." I began learning guitar in 1964 and was playing in a band by early 1965. It was easy to be in a band at the time because the music of the day was fairly simple. By 1967 I was into my 3rd year of performing, and I was also in high school trying to figure out what the future will hold in store for me. In other words, I was in my biggest "growing" phase. Then this new kind of music began showing up on the radio and TV; they called it "psychedelic" music because the bands were probably using mind-altering drugs while writing and recording the music. I began to buy a lot of record albums to study the new music: the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the "Mothers Of Invention," the Doors, Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Moody Blues and others. All of a sudden, the music is challenging, and local bands tended to slip into two categories; those who could learn the new, more difficult music, and those who could not. Not wanting to be left behind, I started practicing more and taking my guitar playing more seriously. This challenge is probably what set up my career as a professional musician. Because of this, I have always been particularly fond of the music that came out of the "Summer Of Love."

But while my music was changing, so were my political views and views of life in general. The "hippies" of the era were strongly against authority, and against the "straight" way of life. Businessmen were referred to as "plastic" (meaning artificial) people because they went along with whatever they were told in order to get ahead in life. It didn't matter if what they were doing was right or wrong, good or bad. And of course, there was a strong resentment against the war in Vietnam. Our young people were being sent off to die by politicians and industrialists who were profiting from the war. They tried to fool us with the slogan "War means work for all!" Anyone who felt we had no business in Vietnam and who protested the war was simply referred to as a radical, a troublemaker or a commie.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of the Summer Of Love, we are once again engaged in an unpopular war that many believe we have no business participating in. What is that old saying, "if you can't learn from history, then you are bound to repeat it?" But that's only one problem. At least in 1967 we had artistic and creative, absolutely beautiful music to listen to (although many parents still didn't like it). What do we have to listen to today to get us through the war in Iraq? Rap? House? Hip-Hop? 19 "cuss" words per sentence? Can you hum the melody of a rap or hip-hop song for me? If I want to be popular, do I need to overuse the "F" word and jump up and down on stage while grabbing my balls?

The last time I played at the De Oro Mine Company, the bartender told me the house made more money that night than when any of the "popular" bands play there. Could it be that maybe I am one of the only performing artists left over from the "old days" who is still playing "music" rather than proliferating noise?

I would like to get your opinions because I am about to sit down and record a new CD that I would like to release through commercial channels, and I would like it to be universally accepted by people of all ages, backgrounds, races and lifestyles. It is going to be a large part of my retirement income. If I could hear back from a cross section of older and younger people what you like and don't like about my music, and what are your favorite songs that I perform, it would help me plan the song selection for the new CD. So please, keep those comments coming!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New Home of the Tom Smerk Mailing List!

For those of you who wandered into my space here, let me fill you in on what I'm up to. I am an entertainer currently performing in the San Diego area. My current act has been together for about four years, but I have been a professional entertainer since 1965. I sing and play guitar, and use a notebook computer controlled MIDI multitrack software program to provide backup music such a bass, drums, keyboards, strings and brass. My web site is if you would like to know more.

I have been sending an announcement each month to a select group of people who have signed up to be on my mailing list. The monthly bulletin announced my upcoming shows and also let everybody know what I have been up to lately. I have decided to discontinue my mailing list and monthly bulletin for three reasons:1. People don't come to see my show just because they got an email from me. They only come when they want to. It has to be the right type of venue, not too far away, and not too late at night. (People don't seem to go out like they used to!)2. Many more people would like to be on my mailing list, but they are very afraid of giving their email because of spam and malicious practices on the Internet. By disseminating the information here in this weblog, anybody who wants can recieve the information without having to identify themselves.3. I'm noticing from my teaching experience that more and more people are embracing the latest technologies such as smartphones, weblogs and RSS feeds. Because this blog has an RSS feed, those of you who would like to always be up to date on what I am up to can subscribe to the feed and automatically recieve updates.

I will be sending my final email to my mailing list this week. From then on, all information will be posted here. Please either subscribe to my feed, or at least check in frequently. We now have the opportunity for interactive discussion about music, rural living, or anything else we have in common.

For those of you who found this on your own, I will begin by posting a compilation of recent emails so you can get caught up on what you missed by not being on the mailing list. I really appreciate all of your suport and encouragement. Just because you may not have heard of me (yet) doesn't mean you shouldn't take notice and get involved. I was a popular entertainer in the 60's, 70's and 80's, working with many major acts either on the same stage or as an opening act. Then in 1988 I was offered a job teaching in the Community College system, and that led to a full time job with one school and a busy part-time job with another. Plus I am currently working on opening a national online business school and writing textbooks to go with some of the curriculum. I have just been notified that my biography will be published in the 11th edition of "Who's Who Among America's Teachers."

Now that I am nearing retirement from teaching, my music has once again become a big part of my life. My playing and singing at this point are better than ever and my new songs are the best I've ever written. I am upgrading my personal recording studio with hopes of creating some great new CDs for the international market. I am soon goig to stop playing in bars and nightclubs and concentrate on the concert circuit. So please join me on my new musical venture and let's see what happens!