The Smart Brothers of Busk

The Smart Brothers of Julian cover a lot of ground.
  • The Smart Brothers of Julian cover a lot of ground.

On their Facebook and MySpace profiles, Julian-based folk rockers the Smart Brothers list “the Road” as their hometown. Considering the trio played 273 shows in 2010, the road seems to be exactly that — home.

“We cover a lot of ground,” said Jay Smart, one of the band’s singer-guitarists.

SBs have covered a lot of ground since their first year-and-a-half-long tour in 2008, when they traveled the country in their 1974 Volkswagen Westfalia, earning their bread by busking on street corners.

“We wouldn’t have stopped, but we burned a hole in the motor,” said Smart. “People would see us on the street and invite us into their homes.”

For brothers Jay and Lou Smart and childhood friend Mike Reed, 2011 will be spent traveling as they have in the past, but instead of playing street corners, the up-and-comers will be playing college campuses and festivals.

The change in venues came shortly after a Nashville-based booking agent signed on to work for the band earlier this year.

“It’s helped a lot. Most of the year is already booked,” said the 25-year-old Jay Smart during a phone interview from his home in Julian.

So far the Smart Brothers have signed on to play the Floyd Fest in Virginia, the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in North Carolina, and plan to return to Pensacola Beach, Florida, in the summer to play the De Luna Fest, where they appeared last year with headliners Willy Nelson, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Stone Temple Pilots.

“It’s a trip,” said Jay about going from playing street corners to jamming to large crowds at music festivals.

“Before, when we were busking on the streets, no one would pay attention and you’d have to pull out all of the stops to get people to listen to more than one chord of a song. It was a whole different mind state. Now, we get to these festivals the day before for sound checks. It’s a lot different. It’s a lot easier.”

The Smart Brothers are talking to a record label and plan on recording in the first part of the year, but Smart said it was too early to discuss specifics.

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