2010-04-08 / Scene

No strangers to good music

Rockabilly Strangers at the PIX Theatre April 9
BY EMILY CASWELL

The Rockabilly Strangers will perform at the PIX Theatre next Friday night. The Rockabilly Strangers will perform at the PIX Theatre next Friday night. LAPEER — Chris Smith is a strange man.

At least that’s what he was once referred to as when he showed up for an audition and a fellow musician failed to mention to his girlfriend that someone would be stopping over. Not wanting to let a stranger in the house, she called her boyfriend and said “there’s a strange man outside our front door.”

After that, the name just stuck said Smith laughing.

But being the “strange man” isn’t the only reason that when Smith, who plays guitar and sings, decided to form his own rockabilly band that he named it the Rockabilly Strangers. That name also worked since he and his fellow band mates, upright bassist James MacPhee and drummer Mike Kissick, were all complete strangers until Smith took out an ad hoping to form a group.

Performing live in bars since the age of 15, Smith was once a full-time musician with the group Twistin' Tarantula. Around 2006 he went looking to slow his performance schedule down a bit, that’s when he met up with MacPhee and Kissick. The chemistry was instant and the group got started. Now they perform about three to four times a month.

The Rockabilly Strangers, based out of the metro Detroit area, will perform at the PIX Theatre in downtown Lapeer at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9.

The other part of the group’s name Rockabilly, simply describes the kind of music the band plays. Rockabilly, said Smith, is the genre of music made from 1956-59. Think early anybody — from Elvis to the Beatles to the Rolling Stones and you’ve got rockabilly, he said.

Smith describes it as when country and rhythm and blues met.

“I love the rockabilly music,” said Smith. “I was always drawn to ‘50s music. Chuck Berry is the reason I got into music.”

Another big draw of rockabilly music for Smith is the bass.

“I love the upright bass,” he said. “I think that sound is just the greatest sound.”

Of course he gets to have fun on his instrument of choice as well.

“The guitaring is just really, really fun,” he said.

Another unique and appealing aspect of the group, said Smith, is that while he’s the lead singer, all members of the band are talented vocalists, meaning they all sing, keeping their live show entertaining.

“The whole band does contribute a lot,” said Smith.

During their PIX performance Smith said the group will play mostly covers and a couple originals tunes. Audiences can expect to hear tunes by Johnny Cash, Bill Haley, the Stray Cats and more.

“When people leave they’re gonna understand what rockabilly is,” added Smith.

Tickets are $12, or $10 for seniors. Tickets or details: 810-664-4824 or www.pixlapeer.org

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