Tim Smith - Singer and Saxophonist

Tim Smith & saxophone If you're a music fan and have lived around here for any amount of time, chances are you've seen Tim Smith playing his saxophone and heard his sweet voice singing somewhere. Be it on the sidewalks of downtown Chapel Hill, or an episode of Sesame Street, Tim's musical talents have made him a well known face in this area.

A New York native, Smith's mother is a school teacher, his father a musician. Over the years, the Smith family took in loads of foster children.

"I have 39 brothers and sisters," Tim told me once when I asked about his family. Needless to say, he learned how to get along well with folks.

I first met Tim in 1994, when he came to work with us as a cook at the fabulously popular, now defunct, New Orleans Cookery. This was at the Franklin St. location, where we would cram 170 people into 34 seats on a weekend night. We'd head up to Crescent City Music Hall sometimes after work, to hear some good live music, and take advantage of the $1 Turbo Dog drafts we got as employees of Steve Dominic's. That's where we first heard Tim. We later worked together on the morning shift at the Omni Europa Hotel. In 1997, he hung up his apron in an attempt to devote himself to his music full time.

Tim gets kisses from Muppet friends The soft spoken Smith's first real band is Jazure, a local jazz trio that incudes Kevin Van Sant and Doug Largent. In May 1997, they participated in the Sister Cities Program, traveling to Saratov, Russia with a group of 12 musicians from right here in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Later, he joined the Jumpstarts, a reggae-ska band. In his quest to play more great music, he joined The Platinum Heavyweights. Having a desire to keep the bills paid and have fun doing what he loves, the next band he joined with was The Countdown Quartet. Recently, he became a member of local favorite The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

You can see Tim perform at Carrboro's Fête 2000 at 4 pm with the Jumpstarts on the Red, Hot & Blue stage at Town Hall, at 5 pm on the same stage with the Platinum Heavyweights, and at 8 pm with Jazure at the Earl Wynn Theater at the ArtsCenter.

My daughter once asked Tim why he spoke so softly, after barely being able to hear him on the telephone. "I have to save my voice for singing," he replied with a grin. And sing he does.

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