Musician/Visual Artist/Author, Sonny & The Sunsets
Smith began playing blues piano in bars when he was nineteen years old. Skipping between the Rocky Mountains of Denver, San Francisco, and Central America, he began to write original songs, short stories and plays. Smith’s travels in Central America inspired his narrative approach and original style of folk music. In 2003, Smith was commissioned by Watchword literary magazine to make a CD of one-act plays delivered as songs. This project led Smith in a new direction, incorporating theatre and dialogue into his evolving approach to music. At the Headlands Center for the Arts, he was awarded a residency in May 2005 to create a feature length musical, The Dangerous Stranger, which included guest performers such as underground folk singer Jolie Holland, local singer Peggy Honeywell (artist Clare Rojas), Miranda July, and set designer Daniel Tierney.
For a 2010 project called 100 Records, first exhibited at Gallery 16 in San Francisco and later at Cinders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Smith invited 100 artists to produce artwork for the record covers of fictional bands. Smith concocted the personas of all 100 fictitious bands, then wrote and recorded two hundred songs (the A side and B side) for each. Smith displayed all the original album artwork as well as a jukebox that plays all two hundred songs recorded by Sonny Smith and other musicians. Artists who participated in the project include Reed Anderson, Alika Cooper, Chris Duncan, Harrell Fletcher, Jo Jackson, Chris Johanson, Tucker Nichols, Ed Ruscha, Paul Wackers and William T. Wiley.
Sonny appears on the 2013 Face The Music session:
Music = Art