Big Smith (Gospel Grass Set)
Big Smith is a band from Springfield, Missouri composed of five cousins: Mark and Jody Bilyeu, Bill and Rik Thomas, and Jay Williamson. The newest member, fiddle player Molly Healey, brings the total to six creative individuals bound together by blood and harmony. After coming together professionally in the fall of 1996, they quickly earned a devoted following playing raucous acoustic music that captured the spirit of their native Ozarks, equipped only with an acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass fiddle and washboard. These early gigs demonstrated to unsuspecting audiences what joy and liberation could be found in the raw mojo of indigenous, authentic Ozarks culture; albeit a culture interpreted through the eyes of modern, intellectually astute neo-hillbillies, if you will. The fourteen years they’ve been together have borne witness to an evolving instrumentation and sonic palate. The original acoustic lineup is still there as a tether to their legacy, but anymore it seems Big Smith simply aspires to be a great American band, regardless of whether the guitars are solid and amplified or woody and earthen.