When musician James Coberly Smith left Los Angeles in 2008, he chose Boise as a retirement spot because of what he perceived as a spectacular quality of life including the music scene.
He discovered intimate performance venues within walking distance of each other. He found locally oriented radio.
Im thrilled, he says. I love living here.
But the songwriter also noticed a void. He didnt see any local musicians on TV.
Smith, who had performed on public-access television in L.A., decided to change that. He launched the half-hour Boise Song Talk on Treasure Valley Community Television channel 11. The second season begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5.
I thought, shoot, Ill create this show, Smith, 60, explains. And in the process, I dont want to just have musicians come on and play. We can buy their CDs to do that. We can go see them in a club to do that. I want to talk to them. I want people to see who they are, to hopefully add another dimension of interest to the local artist.
Boise Song Talk has three goals: 1) To educate viewers about the craft of songwriting; 2) To entertain, not just with conversation but with brief musical performances; 3) To promote local musicians.
The 2010 season included familiar faces ranging from singer-songwriter Rebecca Scott to outlaw-country singer Jeremiah James. (Watch the episodes online at Boisesongtalk.com.) Season two begins with folk singer Rosalie Sorrels. Other guests will include Marcus Eaton, Gayle Chapman and Thomas Paul.
Im excited about that show, Eaton says. I think its going to open some peoples minds. I think its really great for local music in Boise.
Smith, who performs in the group Coberly & Town, doesnt know many hours it takes to produce an episode: A lot! Lets not dwell on it, he says, laughing.
But its worth it.
I love songwriting, Smith says. And I like talking to songwriters.
A good deal of the shows charm comes from its host. Smith is a character in the true sense of the word, a good-natured interviewer with the sincerity of a kid born and raised in Wisconsin.
He totally cracks me up hes very funny, Eaton agrees. I really like him. Hes great because he gets it. Hes a songwriter himself.
After playing a brief intro on 12-string guitar then twisting a steel slide off his finger, Coberly introduces himself to viewers: Welcome to Boise Song Talk. Im James Coberly Smith. Give me just a second to set this geetar down ...
Next, he plays and sings a 2-minute original. Then cameras operated by college students pan out to reveal his guest. The songwriting conversation begins sometimes basic, sometimes technical, always fun.
Interestingly, public-access TVs direct approach helps you see these musicians more deeply. Performers normally observed from a barstool suddenly are inches away under bright light, flanked by paintings done by Smiths wife. Its simple and effective. Eatons acoustic-guitar finger-tapping is breathtaking on the Oct. 26 episode.
Smith works hard to prepare. This season, he visited Sorrels in her cabin near Idaho City several times before the student camera crew made the trip, he says.
He wound up with three Sorrels episodes. They signal an evolution for Boise Song Talk. Rather than focusing exclusively on songwriting, Smith and the Grammy-nominated singer spoke about Boise music history. Sorrels insights into Idahos early jazz scene are fascinating.
Smith is proud of the Sorrels shows, but he wont admit to having a favorite Song Talk episode.
I like them all, he says. Thats all I can say. I really do.
Its impossible to imagine anyone who appreciates music not feeling the same.
Let the joystick mashing and beer chugging begin.
Spacebar Arcade, 200 N. Capitol Blvd., debuted in Boise this weekend.
Grinkers Grand Palace, 228 E. Plaza Drive in Eagle, plans to open Oct. 5.
Both arcades will target Gen-Xers who remember growing up with quarter-gobbling machines like Battlezone, Star Castle and Tempest.
Spacebar will lure passersby and bargoers with a couple dozen or so 25-cent games and a handful of pinball machines.
Grinkers is more of a destination arcade. Its larger 3,700 square feet and plans to house more than 100 games.
The big question: Will anyone ever top George Costanzas Frogger high score?
TONIGHT IN THE OTHER STUDIO
Singer-guitarist David Andrews joins us to talk about Calobos reunion show Oct. 4 in Boise.
Plus, new music from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mindy Smith, and old music from Buckner & Garcia.
COMING IN SCENE ON SEPT. 28
- Violinist Rachel Barton Pine kicks off the Boise Philharmonics new season.
- Bodies: Revealed hits the Discovery Center.
- A restaurant review of MoMo Food of the Himalayas.
Michael Deeds column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds