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No genre? No problem for Mr. Smith

Published July 9, 2013 11:25 am

Local sounds • Young SLC band still finding its niche, but leans toward the blues.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They say their music is blues, maybe rock, or alternative. It could even be indie.

The members of Mr. Smith aren't set on a genre and don't see that as a problem. Since three of the members are 20 and the fourth is 18, they're mainly concerned with developing as musicians.

Led by the dynamic voice of Oskar Buie, Mr. Smith seamlessly moves between genres, but settles into blues most naturally. The grooves attract crowds of all ages around Salt Lake City.

"From 7 years old to 70," said Buie, 18.

The mix of genres is no surprise, as the members have varying musical preferences. Buie and guitarist Brecken Jones tend to find peace with old blues riffs. Stockton Bermingham, the drummer, listens to metal bands, and bassist Mark Swink used to be a solo artist in Price.

Buie and Jones were previously in a band together and originally conceived of Mr. Smith. Through chance encounters on social media, they found the two other members and officially formed last November.

They became good friends after jamming together. And after nine live shows — and one album titled "Mr. Smith" — they think they're finding a steady sound with blues, although that's not set in stone.

"We want to be what we feel, even if it goes alternative, indie, blues, there's no process," Swink said.

Buie often comes up with ideas for songs, but it then becomes a group effort. Because of the varying backgrounds of each musician, they never know where they want a song to go.

"It's weird because I've written stuff that I never thought I could," said Buie. "It's because the music is so strong. We as a band focus more on the groove of things. If you just groove, it will come."

Their album starts with consecutive rock songs, then slips into a mix of alternative and blues. Aside from a few solo moments for Jones on the guitar, no one musician dominates.

Bermingham is quick to point out that he's not an experienced or diverse drummer capable of playing the array of genres, but there's a certain understanding of music the band members each feel they possess.

"I feel like I know music better than I can play it," he said. "I've always been crazy into music. I've always been able to play the drums in the background. Knowing all that stuff, I feel like that adds to it more than drumming, knowing where to take the song."

The musicians also benefit from their close relationship. At almost all points during the day, Jones said, they're concerned about the next time they'll get together as much as they're worried about music.

"I've been in six or seven bands since I've been in music, and this is the only band that I felt like something's there," he said. "I think it's because we're all such good friends that we've all adapted to the same music beliefs and life in general."

Mr. Smith has four shows in July, with more on the radar.

"We're just figuring it out," Buie said. "We're constantly progressing, and it's always something new."

mappelgate@sltrib.com

Listen to Mr. Smith

When • July 5, 15 and 20 at Kilby Court, 7 p.m.; July 11 at the Shred Shed, 7 p.m.

Listen and buy • http://mistersmithmusic.bandcamp.com/ or on iTunes.