Mr. Smolin is the performance moniker of Los Angeles songwriter Barry Smolin, aka Shmo. Best known as the host of the psychedelic radio show The Music Never Stops on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California, Smolin has been writing songs for 30 years in a variety of genres, finally settling on a piano-based offbeat pop sound that reflects influences ranging from Stephen Foster and Hoagy Carmichael to poet-artists like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens and Harry Nilsson and Elton John and David Bowie and Randy Newman and Tom Waits to pop eccentrics like Gilbert O'Sullivan and Tim Buckley as well as theatre composers like Jerome Kern and Stephen Sondheim, among many others.
Smolin's first band, The Wake, formed post-high school in 1978, was also his first musical interaction with the artist now known as Stew, who played guitar in that late-adolescent outfit. Other members of the group included drummer Eldad Tarmu (now well-known as a jazz vibraphonist), bassist Viken Garabedian, and pianist/singer Ron Dumas (later of Dumas & Attack Group), who also wrote some of the songs. The Wake played its first professional show together in April of 1979 at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA. The group disbanded in 1980 after a year of gigs in the Los Angeles club scene.
The next 21 years Smolin spent variously playing solo (including appearances at Gerde's Folk City while residing in New York in the mid-'80s), as a duo with college-chum Harvey Canter, and as the keyboard player in Canter's bands Sea of Green and Ruby Flux. Having set aside his own music for most of the '90s, concentrating instead on writing poetry and playing other people's music, both live and on the radio, Smolin regained his muse and started writing songs again in 2001, the batch of tunes that would become his 2004 album At Apogee, a lush, non-linear song-cycle produced by Stew. Performers on the album included horn virtuoso Probyn Gregory, the psychedelic surf-noir band Double Naught Spy Car, and other hit-men from the L.A. indie-pop mafia. Village Voice music critic Richard Gehr dubbed Smolin's style on At Apogee "psychedelic cabaret music."
Mr. Smolin's 2nd album is another collaboration with Stew entitled The Crumbling Empire Of White People. Released in June of 2007, The Crumbling Empire Of White People is the artist's take on love and loss, politics, religion, and other burdens of our age.
Renowned "Pervasive" artist and longtime Smolin enthusiast Gary Baseman provides 4 original paintings for the album art on The Crumbling Empire Of White People.
Mr. Smolin's song "The Earth Keeps Turning On" is featured on Episode 7 (Season 3) of the Showtime television series "Weeds." In addition, the song is also featured on the Weeds Season 3 Soundtrack Album released in June of 2008.
On November 4, 2009, Mr. Smolin will release his 3rd album Bring Back The Real Don Steele, a Los Angeles song-cycle recorded live and unrehearsed at Echo Curio, an art gallery on Sunset Blvd. in the city's Echo Park neighborhood. Smolin's band on Bring Back The Real Don Steele includes L.A. stalwarts Probyn Gregory, Paul Lacques, Vince Meghrouni, Miles Mosley, and Brandon Jay. Singing back-up vocals are Harvey Canter, Patria Jacobs, and Chris Rael.