Midtown Raleigh News

October 25, 2013

Raleigh songwriter Roger Troy Smith takes on music full-time

After years of waiting tables to pay the bills, Roger Troy Smith has decided to make music his full-time job.

After years of waiting tables to pay the bills, Roger Troy Smith has decided to make music his full-time job.

That can prove an impossible dream for many musicians, but Smith is off to a strong start: On Tuesday, he’ll share a bill with nationally known rockers The Band of Heathens.

Smith says a little persistence was all it took to get the opening slot at The Pour House Music Hall. But it doesn’t hurt that his blend of country and rock tinged with blues complements the Texas-based touring band’s Americana style.

“I found their booking agent and manager and just asked – simple as that,” Smith said. “That’s the thing I’ve learned in trying to take this full time: The worst that they can tell you is no.”

Tuesday’s show features Smith with several band members in an acoustic format, but his full band – Roger Troy Smith and the Red Engine – features electric guitar and drums. The versatility should help land gigs ranging from coffee shops to concert halls.

Smith’s original songs, with titles like “I Have Nothing to Lose” and “No End in Sight,” work in both formats.

“That’s the thing about these songs – a 16-year-old or a 65-year-old can find something they like about it,” he said.

Smith is also reaching new audiences through independent films, with seven movie soundtracks on his resume. The opportunity came out of an old musical partnership. When his partner in the band Kennebec, Jeramy Blackford, left to pursue an acting career, he also took Smith’s music with him to filmmakers.

Smith’s new album, released earlier this year, has drawn comparisons to Jackson Browne and Josh Ritter. He counts The Felice Brothers and Mavis Staples among his influences.

“The songs have always come from the same testimonial, hellfire-and-brimstone place,” he said. “A lot of it is turn the ... TV off, pick up the guitar and sit on the couch. ... I’ll even YouTube songwriters talking about songwriting. The only thing that’s consistent is nobody knows how to describe it.”

In the coming months, Smith plans to hit the road touring, “knocking down all the usual doors from here to the mountains,” he said.

“It’s literally the beginning for me.”

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