It’s safe to say that Montrose-based musician William Smethurst, who goes by the stage name Boxcar, really loves music.
A vocalist and guitarist, Smethurst has been playing gigs big and small, including private events, in Telluride and Mountain Village since the 1990s, sometimes on his own, as Boxcar, and other times as part of the band The Poachers. His wife, Shannon Smethurst, even joins in from time to time.
This winter season, Smethurst has been entertaining the après crowd solo with weekly performances Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. at The View Bar & Grill at Mountain Lodge and Saturdays at the Last Dollar Saloon, also 4-7 p.m.
Meanwhile, in Montrose, Smethurst doesn’t have a regular playing schedule, but can often be seen at venues like the Horsefly Brewery, Remington’s at the Bridges and Montrose Pavilion. He also occasionally performs with the Brown Family Band, a group known for its incredible harmonies. He gives guitar lessons from his Montrose studio through the Precedence Music Academy and is in pre-production on an upcoming album, due out later this year, a project that Smethurst described as “overdue”.
Smethurst even majored in music in college, earning a degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Georgia, studying jazz, rock and blues.
“Music is the stuff that keeps me alive that’s for sure,” Smethurst said. “I think I was inspired by my parents, who were artists. They provided me with a great example of living my craft. In terms of success, I have never had a whole lot of money, but I have deemed musical proficiency as my definition of success.”
The popular musician, whose moniker is a nod to the late country-gospel singer-songwriter Boxcar Willie, lists influences as diverse as composers like Johan Bach, John Williams and Andreas Segovia and guitar-driven classic rock like the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
He added, “I have also gained a lot of insight over the years from having lived in Telluride into the musicianship found in bluegrass, jazz and my favorite genre, the blues. I really like some of the new artists out right now, too. I think Samantha Fish is a smoking guitar player and vocalist, as well as the North Mississippi All-Stars. Derek Trucks is also a hero of mine, and his wife, Susan Tedeschi, has the best blues voice known to man. Of course, the Allman Brothers were huge to me being a southerner from Atlanta and I really enjoy old R&B stuff from Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as well as singer-songwriters from Dylan to James Taylor.”
What can people expect from his performances?
“Cover-wise, I range from Hank to Hendrix,” Smethurst said. “I have original music as well, such as a tune called ‘Sword Fight’ about the challenging aspects of being a single dude in Telluride, another song called ‘Godzilla Does Dallas’, which is an upbeat funky tune, and the instrumental ‘Boxanova,’ just to name a few.”
Moussa Konare, who co-owns the Last Dollar Saloon, described Boxcar as an “awesome musician and artist.”
“He is an ass-kicker who has been rockin’ Telluride for about 20 years now,” Konare said. “He is an old friend who has been entertaining us since the Swede Finn days of 2000-2002. He plays originals, classics and contemporary stuff. He has a great sense of humor, a quick wit and is a fantastic storyteller, which all come alive during his set.”
Bud Thomas, executive chef at The View Bar & Grill, said that Boxcar is a popular fixture at the Mountain Village spot too. “He’s really developed a following up here.”
Smethurst emphasized that while music is key, there are other elements of his life that are just as important.
“I have a summertime job as a fly fishing guide for Telluride Outside,” he said. “I frequently guide all day and gig at night during the summer months. I view music and fishing in my world as a balance. Both serve to offer lessons that actually correspond to one another — timing, rhythm and relaxation, just to name a few. I am always inspired to share with others the lessons that I have learned as a student of both fishing and music ... I am incredibly lucky to call both music and fishing my livelihood.”
Smethurst added that his most important gig is “dad of two wonderful little girls, Alaina and Emma, 9 and 4 years old, respectively. Being a father has been the very best thing as an artist to really give meaning to my life. The gift of fatherhood has served to turn the tables on insights into why I am here and why I want to make music.
“I am thrilled to be a fisherman and a musician, but I will always consider myself a father first.”