Hal Smith took up the drums in 1963, and became a full-time professional musician in 1978. He has played with many of the best Traditional Jazz and Swing bands including the Dukes of Dixieland, Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band, Butch Thompson Trio, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band, Climax Jazz Band, Yerba Buena Stompers, the Fat Babies and many others. Hal has also played Western Swing (Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition; Jason Roberts Band); Rockabilly (Memphis Speed Kings, the Hayriders, Gino and the Lone Gunmen, Cash Kings, Big Rig Deluxe) and Blues (James Harman, Junior Watson, Nathan James/Ben Hernandez, Blue Largo, Johnny Rover, Billy Watson).
Hal has performed on Minnesota Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” Texas Public Radio’s “Riverwalk – Live From The Landing,” numerous television programs and on over 200 recordings.
Currently Hal lives in Searcy, Arkansas. He works frequently with New Orleans-based bands led by Kris Tokarski, Tim Laughlin and Banu Gibson; with Jeff Barnhart’s Fats Waller Legacy Band (Mystic, CT) and with Grammy Award-winning pianist Floyd Domino’s All-Stars (Austin, TX). He is also on the faculty of the New Orleans Trad Jazz Camp.
In addition to his work as a sideman, Hal leads the Kid Ory-styled On The Levee Jazz Band (https://www.ontheleveejazz.com/) and Swing Central.
Hal was influenced by hearing Ben Pollack, Nick Fatool, Wayne Jones and Fred Higuera in live performance. He has also studied the recordings of drummers Sid Catlett, Dave Tough, Zutty Singleton, Jo Jones, Minor Hall, George Wettling, Morey Feld, Gene Krupa, Harry Dial, Johnny Wells, Vic Berton, Stan King, Ray Bauduc, Bill Dart, Monte Mountjoy and more.
When Hal Smith plays, the spirits of George Wettling, Zutty Singleton and Dave Tough smile. Whether it’s small group swing, San Francisco Jazz, 1920s classics or freewheeling Eddie Condon jazz, his playing lifts up the music with taste, class and subtle ideas.
— Scott Yanow, Jazz Historian and Journalist. http://www.scottyanow.com