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Smitty’s soulful sounds

June 25, 2011
By Cindy Votruba ( , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - A couple of years ago Ken Smith and his wife, Anna Haecherl-Smith, went around town looking for musicians to put together a soul-funk band.

"It's one of those thingstwo years ago I wanted to start a soul band," Smith said. So he and Anna would ask people if they played saxophone or trumpet, trying to assemble the different pieces for the band.

"We figured that some people had to play them (trumpet, saxophone) in grade school band," Smith said.

Smith said Smitty and the Sound was something he wanted to do for some time.

Throughout the next couple of years, Smith collected the people to fill out the spots.

Most of the musicians in the band were already friends with each other but had never played together in a band. But what Smith got was 200 years of musical experience.

Smitty and the Sound, which started performing in February, consists of Smith on guitar and vocals; Haecherl-Smith on guitar and drums; Marcie Anderson on flute; Drew Berg on drums and keyboard; Ian Johnson on guitar; Anna Kelsey on vocals and keyboard; Oak Kelsey on trombone; Cory Klumper on trumpet; Wes Myers on saxophone; Adam Scheel on bass and Christy Ellis on vocals.

When the group first started, Smith thought about doing an "experimental artsy noise rock band." But then he showed the song "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd to the rest of the group.

"It was secretly my mission to do that song," Smith said. The band liked the song and became a soul-funk group.

"I wanted to play music people would like," Smith said. "Who doesn't like a 'My Girl' or a 'Sugar Pie Honeybunch?'"

Basically, the band plays classic soul and wants to have fun while playing it and the members have input.

"Everybody in the band gets a say in what is played," Haecherl-Smith said. Although Smith, Ellis and Anna Kelsey do the vocals, other members are featured vocals on certain songs. For example, Berg performs lead vocal on Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle."

Smith said the band has built up a two-hour set of music and is shooting to get a four-hour one together.

Ian Anderson met Ken and Anna through mutual friends and found out about the type of music Smitty and the Sound plays. Ian Anderson came to Marshall from Bozeman, Mont. a year and a half ago and has played guitar for more than 20 years. He said he enjoys performing the music Smitty and the Sound plays, the older R&B.

"I really like where that music comes from," Ian Anderson said.

And Ken is this "great charismatic guy" and great guitar player, Ian Anderson said, making band members feel comfortable and "that they matter."

For some of the musicians, it had been a while since they've picked up the instruments they play with Smitty and the Sound.

The last time Klumper played trumpet before joining the band was back in 1998 when he was part of the Star of Minnesota Marching Band at Southwest State University. He said it's great to perform with a talented group of musicians.

"They're just fantastic players," Klumper said.

Myers, who is the orchestra teacher at Marshall Middle School, normally plays string bass. He said he played sax in college.

"I just picked it up and joined (Smitty and the Sound)," he said.

Marcie Anderson said she hasn't played the flute this much since high school and never was part of a band.

"This is really exciting for me and a lot of fun," Marcie Anderson said. "I've had a blast."

Smitty and the Sound is host to the Varsity Pub's Open Mic night that is from 7-11 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month.

The band has also performed at a few gigs around the area, including the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council's artists retreat at Lake Shetek and Lucan's Braufest.

"So far we've had great response," Smith said.

And, Smith said, the band is always welcoming people to come sing with it.

"We're all here to play music that's fun," Myers said.

"It's hard not to like it, it's universal,"?Marcie Anderson said.



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