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 leads the On The Levee Jazz Band (https://www.ontheleveejazz.com/).  He also plays drums with:

  • The Kris Tokarski Trio (New Orleans)
  • Tim Laughlin (New Orleans)
  • Banu Gibson and Hot Jazz, Inc. (New Orleans)
  • The Classic Jazz Trio (U.S.A.)
  • Floyd Domino’s All-Stars (Austin)
  • Dan Walton and the Jump Swing Imperials (Austin)
  • Brooks Prumo Orchestra (Austin)
  • Jeff Barnhart and the Hot Jazz Collective (U.S.A.)

On occasion, Hal plays Western Swing with Dave “Pappy” Stuckey in Pappy and Junior’s Western Swing All-Stars; leads Swing Central and also Pretty Wild.

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, Andrew Hilaire, George Wettling, Morey Feld, Gene Krupa, Harry Dial, Johnny Wells, Vic Berton, Stan King, Ray Bauduc, Bill Dart, Monte Mountjoy and more.


On The Levee Jazz Band

kt trio at jazz corner 11919

Kris Tokarski Trio (with Jonathan Doyle)

Tim Quartet at NOJC Anniversary Party

Tim Laughlin Quartet


Brooks Prumo Orchestra

Classic Jazz Trio

Classic Jazz Trio

Floyd Domino All Stars color

Floyd Domino’s All – Stars

Pappy and Junior's Western Swing All-Stars

Pappy and Junior’s Western Swing All – Stars

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