Written by James Killen
Sep 20, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageDanny Schmidt picked a rainy night to play Anderson Fair as they opened this week after the summer vacation. It was coming down in buckets and patrons were slow to arrive. Schmidt had originally been booked for this date to be accompanied by his wife Carrie Elkins, but schedules shifted and Danny was left to take the stage solo.

He started the night with the song that he wrote to propose to Carrie, “Kiss Me Now”, whilst mourning her absence and that of her harmonies. He followed up with the bluesy folk tune, “Better off Broke”. Schmidt can tune and talk better than most and is happy to share his intended lyrical messages. This is especially helpful with Danny’s style of writing. A listener can follow a lot of songs like a string of words that loops back through a refrain to emphasize the writer’s meaning. Danny Schmidt writes his songs with each verse acting like a slat of imagery in a latticework, building on each other until the message is conveyed. If one misses a line, it doesn’t come back around.

Danny’s been writing quite a bit lately and took a number of the new songs out for a spin in front of the small crowd of twenty-five or so. One of them (only a week or so old) remembered a time when “ink was as deep as the ocean and would print poems on the sand”, but now the “ledger pages became cranes (origami?) and flew away”, hinting that the muse was not as easily tapped as it was in the old days. That song featured an eerie guitar line. He also wrote one recently about Mother Nature coming back to seek vengeance on those that would frack (fill the dirt with water) and drill carelessly offshore (poison the ocean).

The unrecorded songs continued with “Cry on the Flowers” and “Ghosts and Men” regarding gun violence. He got in a bit of an upbeat song with “Swing Me Down” and ended the set with the epic “Stained Glass”.

The second set opened up with a cover of Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”, apropos as the rain continued to beat a steady tempo on the roof. He followed that with a lively fingerpicking version of “God’s Love of Man” with lines like “from eyes of love drop tears of sin” and “but it’s the Bible that takes a beating when you preach a love of hate”.

Danny can get a bit heavy at times, but some of the songs are more light-hearted, like “Ragtime Ragtime Blues” and “Everything’s Cool”, both of which are worthwhile songs to remember if a man is in a serious relationship. The second set continued and included the “Two Timing Bank Robber’s Lament” and an almost Celtic “In the Sunset of my Life”, revealing the changing relationship a man has with his shadow. Schmidt ended the evening’s entertainment with another new tune called “Looks Like” about the beautiful mistakes that make the world a wonder to behold.

I had been encouraged to give Danny Schmidt a look-see by a couple of folks that I met at the Wildflower Festival in Richardson this year. I see now what they meant by Schmidt’s songwriting prowess. His rhyming and rhythm are immaculate and every song builds to a theme. Schmidt is sensitive to personal relationships and social responsibilities, alike. His voice is high and clear and his guitar work enviable. A listening room like Anderson Fair is Schmidt’s milieu and Friday’s performance showed good use of it. Ya’ll have fun. We do.