While her signature sound draws powerful influence from the old-time styles of the past, April Smith found a uniquely 21st century solution to fund her latest album, this year's "Songs for a Sinking Ship'': through the fundraising website Kickstarter, Smith raised over $13,000 for the album.
"It was such a great experience, because I really feel like it not only raised the money for the album, but it definitely got people's attention and people were just checking out the project because they were intrigued by Kickstarter and other people were saying, 'Oh, you've got to check this out, this is so cool,''' Smith said. "So it helped us in a number of ways, not just financially but really spreading the word about the music and about the project and all kinds of stuff like that.''
Smith, a Toms River native who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be returning to the Shore with her band, the Great Picture Show, to perform at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park on Saturday (Dec. 11).
"Songs for a Sinking Ship'' comes four years after Smith's debut full-length release, "Loveletterbombs'' (2006) and the singer/songwriter explained how her sound evolved in the years between her two albums.
"Basically I had written one song, 'Wow and Flutter,' and that kind of like snowballed into the rest of the songs for the (new) album, and I think I just really started letting my influences come through in my writing, like my big band and swing influences from the early 1900s and just that kind of music, the Andrews Sisters and Artie Shaw and anything that has that retro sound,'' she said. "That was stuff that I had always enjoyed but never really explored in my own writing, so I guess I started letting it in a little bit and songs just sort of came out.''
When Smith returns to Asbury Park this month, it will be just down the block from the site of the former Baronet Theatre, which hosted the world premiere screening of Smith's video for the "Loveletterbombs'' track "Bright White Jackets'' in 2007. The 97-year-old theater was demolished this September after it was determined to be an imminent hazard, according to city officials.
Check out our photo gallery of bygone Shore spots, including the Baronet.
Discussing the razing of the historic building, Smith said, "That just makes me so mad. A lot of people, instead of restoring buildings and preserving history, they just want to tear things down and put up condos, and I think that's such a stupid thing to do.
"I think those same people who are tearing buildings down, their kids are going to be really pissed off at them when they grow up and ask, 'Why did you do that? Why did you tear that down? You couldn't have fixed it up and put a little paint on it and shined it up?' I don't understand Americans in that respect."
Smith, a performer who displays a keen sense of cultural history in her music, said the loss of the building was "a real shame. I think whoever's decision that was must be a like a total mental reject, because how do you do that? How do you tear down the Baronet? I don't know, but clearly that person had no connection with history.''