WHO IS DOUG SMITH?
Dixieland and jazz bassist
Dunmore, PA/Lackawanna County
Doug Smith has been working for decades to keep alive an original American art form: Dixieland music. As Doug Smith’s Dixieland All-Stars, some of his band members are in their 70s, some in their 80s and 90s. He has lost some musicians but continues to nurture younger musicians who worked with the older musicians to learn their craft and carry it on.
“I have been a musician since 1964. At a young age, I worked with some of the best musicians on the East Coast. Many played Dixieland and worked at the famous resorts in the Pocono Mountains. As my friends/musicians passed away, I decided to keep this music alive. I began (and continue with) playing school assemblies, giving concerts and creating video recordings shown on PBS and other local TV stations. Collectively, we have inspired many young students to begin playing Jazz.”
Doug is a Bandleader and bassist who has been playing and loving it for over 65 years. He feels fortunate to have played, worked, and studied with musicians who began playing this style of music not long after its inception. One of the early masters with whom he learned directly was Bobby Baird – a musician now in his 90’s who still works with Doug’s Dixieland All-Stars. Doug has worked with local PBS station WVIA to document Bobby on several radio interviews with WVIA’s ArtScene with Erika Funke.
According to Smith, early Dixieland evolved in New Orleans, as people from all over the world immigrated to this country in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the rich multicultural mix gave birth to the form. While it caught hold in New Orleans, it also sprang up in Chicago and eventually New York City. He notes that his native Scranton, PA, played an enormous role in the Vaudeville era, and therefore contributed greatly to the proliferation of dixieland/jazz.
“Growing up in the late 1940s and the 1950s, my family instilled their real love of music in me. My uncle Don was an accomplished Trumpet and Piano player. Another uncle played the piano and acted and did some radio. Personally, I have a deep love and commitment to carry on and keep alive this music because of my early friendship with so many long-gone musicians. I am also simply committed to the art form itself.”
In addition to performing continually throughout the region and beyond in order to keep the tradition of Dixieland Jazz alive, Doug has been a rostered artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts “Artists in Education” since the late 1980s. He continues to this day, conducting assembly programs and residencies in schools, encouraging students to play musical instruments and teaching them about the evolution of American music.
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