Put your house on Dan

Danny Schmidt: Musical genius
Danny Schmidt: Musical genius
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Danny Schmidt, musical genius, guitar maestro, compelling performer, folk legend in the making.

Yet this modern-day Dylan can’t wait to turn his gifted hands to something much more mundane.

DIY.

The Texan singer-songwriter, who shares his talent with South Yorkshire audiences next week, has bought a house with his partner, fellow performer Carrie Elkin, and will be flying home to begin work on a cobblestone patio based on an idea he saw while touring in Holland.

“I wouldn’t say I’m handy,” he said, a few days into his short tour of England, Scotland and ‘a sliver’ of Wales. “But I am resourceful. I’ll get on the internet and see what instructions I can find.

“We bought our home in Austin a year ago but because of touring we’ve had no time to spend in it. I’m ready to fix the place up.”

What the 40-year-old is already building is a growing following as the world catches on to his utterly beguiling blend of beautiful melody and searing lyrics.

And that connection with his audience pleases this softly-spoken deep thinker. For Danny is a people person.

“I care about folk,” he said. “Music is my way of interfacing with them.

“I prefer playing in the smaller towns. Some of my songs are lyrically dense and work best in an intimate setting.”

His lyrics stand alone as works of art: clever, witty, poignant, full of soul and biting insight. He may be a gentle man but his work bursts with brutal honesty and observation.

Put the words to those lilting melodies and add his distinctive finger-picking style and a voice aching with emotion and you have a catalogue of songs that stands comparison with the greats, like Dylan and Townes van Zandt, who inspired him to eventually turn ‘playing for fun’ as a teenager into a career.

“There was never a conscious moment when I decided to try to play for a living,” he revealed. “I started out playing and writing songs for myself and my sweetheart and then ended up at open mic events.

“How did I feel the first time I played in public? Terrified!

Told you his talent was scary.

“I started sharing stuff with people and was urged and pushed until it just kind of happened,” he added.

Ten years and seven albums later he’s in the UK for the fifth time, having just savoured his first Cornish pasty and looking forward to trying clotted cream.

“I love this country,” he revealed. “The people are so friendly. The audiences are very generational. There’s a big mix of ages, which I really like.”

Be part of that audience at the Greystones pub where he concludes his tour on Sunday, July 10 before jetting back to his home improvements.

Poetic irony that it’s Danny now picking up the mantle of Dylan, the man whose music he grew up listening to and who would still be one of the three artists on his iPod (with Jimi Hendrix and Jane’s Addiction) if he was marooned on a desert island.

Would Danny Schmidt be on mine?

You can bet your house on it.

nDanny also plays a house concert in Wombwell next Wednesday. For invites, email wombwell.folk@gmail.com.