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Lending a Helping Hand to a Friend
Benefit concert for William Smith: A warm feeling of family.

on February 1, 1992 No comments
by Steve Hochman – Special to The Times

We’re quite used to seeing Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash performing in support of some political or environmental cause. So though the circumstances were unfortunate, it was a nice twist to see them Thursday at the Palace singing to benefit an ailing friend, keyboardist/songwriter William (Smitty) Smith, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered on New Year’s Day. A friend in need just seems to be better inspiration than an issue.

As a musician, Smith, 47, is known both for his conviviality and his command of rock, soul and gospel styles, and has long been a favorite musical partner of such notables as Bob Dylan, Nash, Ry Cooder and David Lindley. As a songwriter he’s known for smooth, gospel-rooted soul. Both facets were represented Thursday, the former in casual acoustic sets by Lindley, Cooder, Browne and Nash, the latter by more formal turns by pop-soul stalwarts Boz Scaggs, Brenda Russell and Michael McDonald.

Throughout the show there was a warm feeling of family – literally in such moments as Cooder’s 13-year-old son Joachim joining his dad on percussion in the early show’s opening set and Lindley’s 21 -year-old daughter Roseanne impressively belting a blues number with her dad in the second show. Unscheduled guest Raitt joined Browne for two gorgeous songs in the second show.

“Friends of Smitty” a benefit concert for William D. “Smitty” Smith – Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne with David Lindley – The Palace, Hollywood, CA – January 30, 1992 © Jill Jarrett

The warmth extended to the soul portions as well. In a particularly fitting case of what goes around comes around, drummer Dallas Taylor, himself the honoree of a concert two years ago after he had a liver transplant, backed singer Bonnie Sheridan (formerly Bramlett) on a show-stopping blues.

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Scaggs (looking fit and trim and comeback-ready), Russell and McDonald all turned in powerful short sets of their own, backed effectively by a versatile crew, including Toto guitarist Steve Lukather and noted drummers Mike Porcaro and Jim Keltner.

The only slightly sour note was the absence of Dylan, who, though unavailable for this date, had been included in some press releases and advertisements due to a miscommunication.

But that hardly dampened the spirit of the event, which hit its peak at the end of the first show when Smith for whom there are hopes for a full recovery – was brought on stage in a wheelchair as singer Phil Perry raised the roof with a gospel-fired version of “I Need You,” a song Smith co-wrote. Choked with emotion, Smith waved his hand across the musician-strewn stage and said simply, “My friends – give them a hand.”

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Source: © Copyright Los Angeles Times

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