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Truth & Salvage Co. at Stillwater

When a songwriter finds a good fit with like-minded musicians, music happens. But what happens when a band of nine songwriters gets together?

"It gets interesting because we all have different influences," says Bill "Smitty" Smith, drummer for Truth & Salvage Co. "We used to get together and just have fun."

The nine-piece band made its home in Asheville, N.C., and called itself the Denim Family Band. That changed when the group was discovered by singer Franky Perez at a music festival in Las Vegas.

"We walked on stage at a ska and rock festival where Franky was performing," Smith says. "The audience booed us when we came out because of the way we were dressed — we're all from the Midwest. But by the end of the show we had won them over."

Perez also liked the band and took its members under his wing, helping them with songs and arrangements. He introduced the group to a manager, Pete Angelus, who hooked them up with Paradigm Talent Agency in Los Angeles and signed them with Sony's Megaforce Records.

"That's how the Truth & Salvage Co. started," Smith says. "It's was great to meet Perez and the others. And it's really great when they can get behind your music."

Since that time, some of the original band have gone on to focus on solo careers and also have signed with major labels.

Now the band is based in L.A., with four key songwriters and a lineup that includes Smith, Joe Edel on stand-up bass, Adam Grace on organ, Walker Young on piano, Tim Jones on rhythm guitar and Scott Kinnebrew on lead guitar.

"We went into a rehearsal studio for about a year before we started performing for live audiences," Smith says. "We worked hard." The album was produced by Chris Robinson of rockers The Black Crowes and will be released in 2010.

Truth & Salvage Co.'s sound is attractive to a lot of listeners, Smith says. Especially those who like rock 'n' roll.

"We (the band's songwriters) all have different styles," Smith says. "Some of mine are The Band, Led Zeppelin, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers. My songs have more of a country flair. Walker is like the Waylon Jennings of our band. Scott's influences go from New Orleans jazz to Irish rockers Thin Lizzy. I call Tim the Sam Cooke of the band because he likes the Stax label Motown artists, along with Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp."

It's an equation for modern day, country rock 'n' roll ensemble, Smith says.

With the record under their belts, Truth & Salvage Co. is being put to work on a national tour. The band will tour the West Coast through June, then head to the East Coast to open shows for The Black Crowes until Oct. 1.

One of the stops will be at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., the venue used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts from 1943 to 1974.

Truth & Salvage Co. toured Iraq in April, entertaining U.S. Troops as Franky Perez' back-up band. And in May, the group opened a show for songwriter Jackie Green at the Rogue Theatre in Grants Pass.

Bill “Smitty” Smith, Adam Grace, Walker Young, Scott Kinnebrew and Tim Jones at a picnic with friends at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Joe Edel was still living in Asheville, N.C., and was not available for the photograph - Photo by Anthony Bird