The Great Walkabout” by Jessica Carner

"The Great Walkabout" by Jessica Carner
Sparks Tribune

RENO — Guitarist Tom Smith will wander into town next week to share stories, songs and poetry he has spent decades composing.Though Smith, 64, now makes his home in Nashville, Tenn., he said he has spent most of his adult life traveling the country observing people and writing music about his experiences. Smith grew up in the Palo Alto, Calif., area and always was curious about the world outside his hometown."(Bob) Dylan played a coffee house, and wrote about ‘where rivers freeze and summer ends,’ which didn’t happen in California," Smith wrote on his website, a young man, Smith went to college to become a history teacher because it was the only profession he was remotely interested in — that is, until he picked up a guitar and gained an interest in jazz music."I got into jazz and started to sneak out of the house and go to the city to a small club on Divisidero called The Both And," he wrote on his website.Smith listened to the music from the alley until the club owners realized he was hanging out in a dangerous area."The people in the club knew I was going to get killed out there so they started letting me in," Smith wrote. "I would sit in the loft with my hardly shaven white face looking over the railing."Smith saw performers such as Miles Davis and his quintet, Philly Joe Jones, Jon Hendricks and Ross and Lambert."I saw legends on a 10-feet by 20-feet stage in a room not 30-feet by 50-feet," he wrote.In 1966, Smith began playing guitar. "The ’60s happened and somehow or another, I picked up a guitar and it made sense," he said in a phone interview. "I started to wander and I had a guitar and I took it with me."Since that time, he has performed in 30 states and three countries. He describes his music as phrase-based but a little bit jazzy. He tries to capture specific emotions in his songs."Nobody really does what I do," he said. After taking some time off touring to raise a now-15-year-old daughter, Smith is "putting himself out on a limb" and engaging in what he calls "the great walkabout" tour."I wanted to kind of get it back to young and hungry," he said. "It’s about how do you keep the passion. So I started looking for resources."Smith said he found the resources he needed to start booking shows using a laptop and contacting people he knows. He’s been performing in California for the past few months, and after his stop in Reno, will head back to California and then to Colorado.The guitarist will play the Studio on 4th at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door or can be purchased in advance at the venue, located at 432 E. Fourth St.This will be Smith’s first performance in Reno, and he is looking forward to interacting with his audience."They can expect a lot of really silly stories and the best music that I am capable of," he said. Visit to hear Smith’s latest album and to read more about his travels. Read more: Sparks Tribune – ‘The Great Walkabout’