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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Son of Punk

Jackson Smith, originally uploaded by Theresa K.

This is Jackson Smith, the young guitar slinging son of Patti Smith and Fred Sonic Smith. I hope that he inherits all the glory that Patti and Fred paved the way for.

Patti Smith was the very first woman in rock n roll to mean anything to me. She was clearly influenced by the very same French Imagist poetry that I was reading when I stumbled upon her first album "Horses" as a college freshman. During spring break, I stayed in the dorm and played her "Gloria" over and over until I am certain I drove a few people crazy. It was the perfect song to play on Easter (my birthday, by the way). Anyway, this all goes to say that I felt validated as a female and a Francophile and a poetry-lover by Patti Smith.

I believe that Fred Smith invented what people now regard as "space rock," with his inventive guitar playing not just in the explosive and politically charged MC5, but more so in his own Sonic's Rendezvous Band.

Patti Smith unleashed a lot of inspirational energy for punks and poets everywhere with "Horses." I think she bridged the gap between Art and Punk by bringing poetry into it. She wasn't afraid to pay homage and she wasn't afraid to play guitar, even when she wasn't all that good at it. She got a lot better as the years went by -- but in the beginning, her rudimentary guitar skills were rather inspirational. It said, "you can do this at home, kids!"

When she took a long sabbatical, Patti never made an announcement. She got married and had a couple kids and lived near Detroit leading a real down-home life.

When Patti returned to the public arena, I was first in line to see her play. I can vividly recall seeing her triumphant return to performing, at Irving Plaza in NYC. Her band had changed a bit. The lovely Richard Sohl passed away in the 80s, Ivan Kral was probably back in Prague if I remember correctly. Lenny Kaye was there, however, leading the charge, and Jay Dee Daugherty was still there holding it all together. Tony Shanahan and Oliver Ray had joined the fold, and for this tour that I saw, Television's Tom Verlaine was along for the ride. It was a lot of guitar!

But there was a treat at that Irving Plaza show. Patti brought out her son, Jackson, who was just a teenager. Years later, he told me it was the first time he played before an audience. The band played "Smoke on the Water," and young Jackson held his own against Lenny, Tom and Oliver. It was cool, it was sweet, and yeah, it was punk.

Today, Jackson is a member of Detroit's hard rockin' Paybacks, led by one of my favorite current rock ladies, Wendy Case.

Wendy Case and Jackson Smith

Before joining the Paybacks, Jackson played in Back in Spades, with Stephen Palmer, Joe Leone, and Nick Bataran. They made a killer debut album, which caught some critical acclaim. It's worth finding their record. There's the spirit of Fred Sonic Smith in Jackson's playing.

Patti is still going strong. Her live show is more powerful than ever. She is our collective punk godmother and she gave rock n roll one excellent guitarist to lead a new generation.

1 comment:

sara said...

wow he is very handsome
patti smith come to spain this summer
i hope to have some money to see her
i like very much your blog