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Returning to Aggieland

Texas A&M graduate, Kevin Smith, returns to Aggieland to play his latest album, "Mantle of Misfortune" over a decade after graduating.

Published: Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

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Courtesy Photo

Kevin Smith class of 1996 is returning this weekend to play and promote his second album, "Mantle of Misfortune" that was released in 2009.

When Kevin Smith graduated Texas A&M University in 1997, he set off to make his mark in the Texas country music scene. Now, 13 years later, Smith has released his second album, "Mantle of Misfortune," and is returning to Aggieland to play at Northgate this weekend.

Smith's love for music started with piano lessons at age 8, continued into middle school when he picked up the bass guitar and later, the standard guitar.

"It was late high school when I made the conscious decision that this was what I was going to be doing," he said. "It wasn't until I got to A&M that I got my first paid gig, at The Tap, a gig that paid $50 a week; it was called 'Sing Along with Kevin Smith.' It started from there - as soon as I got paid for the first show playing music. Once that started, it never stopped."

Smith continued to play wherever he could during his years at A&M, including sorority and fraternity parties, events on campus and opening up for bands coming through town.

"The A&M community really embraced the Texas music scene, back in 1995, 1996, 1997 when Pat Green and Cory Morrow were riding the wave [of Texas country music] and it was real big," he said. "Everyone encouraged me [at A&M]. They were a huge part of my energy that I got. I fed off that, all the excitement up there."

After graduation, Smith recorded his first CD, then moved back to Austin to pursue his career, where he began the life of a musician and the experiences that went with it. This included playing for the troops on a USO tour where he played for two and a half weeks in Italy, Spain and Greece, where he said he met other A&M students who were happy to see another Aggie along the tour.

Another memorable experience on the Texas country music scene for Smith was playing with one of his music heroes: Waylon Jennings.

"I had a chance to open up a show for Waylon Jennings in Austin right before he died," Smith said. "I got a chance to watch the show from right behind him, and got the chance to walk him to his car and tell him how much his music means to me, he looked at me and said, 'Thank you, hoss.'"

Smith is promoting his new album, writing and striving to get back into the studio to record another one.

"Whether I am making $30,000 a year, $100,000 or a $1 million, I'm just going to keep on doing it," he said. "I have been doing it too long and I made a commitment too long ago, it's one of those things I keep on doing and I hope it pays off one day."

Phil Prichett, who produced, recorded and played on Smith's album, said Smith was open to collaboration and that resulted in a distinctive sound.

"Kevin was really open to other artistic input and we came out with a real unique-sounding product," he said. "He pours himself into his songs and he is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, which is the mark of any good song writer. He's an old soul and it shows up in his work."

Adam Brewer, Smith's manager and childhood friend, said he believes Smith is the man to take Texas country music to the next level.

"He is the dark horse, he is the future of what Texas music will be categorized as," he said. "We are in a little bit of a lull, a big dark spot in Texas country right now. I think Kevin is going to be the one turn the page from the old style to the new style."

One of the lessons Smith took from A&M is persistence, something he said he clings to today.

"One thing that has gotten me through these years that I did learn at A&M is a quote that nothing in the world should take the place of persistence, that keeps me going," he said.

As for his advice to aspiring musicians, Smith offers some candid words.

"Stop now, don't go forward. No, [just kidding], the people who choose to do this for a career - you can't stop them, it is something in their genes and in their blood," he said. "As much as I have learned not to do this at times in my career - I can't not do it, it's that 'keep on keeping on' attitude."

Box: Kevin Smith will play from 10 p.m. - 1 a.m. Saturday at Cedar Lane on Northgate, one block behind Church Street.

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