Smoots Card

It was sometime in the summer of 1982. Cande Brought aka Cande Roth of Shadow Traffic fame called me. I hadn’t heard from her since we graduated from CW Post Center out on Long Island. Then again, after graduation my friend Charley Maria and I did a month long trip to England & France. It was all business the first week. I had hot hot hot photos of the Clash at the start of their Combat Rock tour which started at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. He had his more “social” photography work to try to hawk while we were in London for the first week. These were the first picts of the tour & I was guest listed all three night. Thanks Kosmo!

Once back from that life altering excursion driven by our feet and thumbs, I settled into my new routine living in my parents house in Lanoka Harbor, NJ. I “worked all day in Daddy’s garage” and soon tired of being under the same roof as the parental units. I had lived in Long Island for 4 years and I was trying to find a way out of the house and into my own digs. So here comes this call. Candy says. “Hey Streno! Welcome back to NJ!” We talked about the trip and what was going on with her new job at Shadow Traffic. She then tells me, “Hey Streno! Have I got a band for you to see. You’ll love them!” I replied, “… Candy Candy Candy … that’s the kiss of death. Don’t tell me I’ll love something. ‘Cause you know I’m just going to hate it on GPs.” “Streno … meet me at Mrs Jay’s on the boulevard in Asbury Park. I’m livin’ in Asbury now.”

It’s up the Garden State Parkway in my trashed out Brown and Gold Dodge Omni. I get to Mrs Jay’s. I see all these bikes out in front. Damn Candy! What did you get me into! But I hear the scratchy sounds of reggae emanating from within. Once inside I see this guy on stage. The music had me skankin’ and rankin’ big time! I kept lookin’ at Smoots & couldn’t figure out if he was black, white, Asian or had been in the cultural blender on high! He moved & sang with too much soul to be just a white boy playin’ roots … man.

At the end of a blistering first set Candy introduced me to Smoots. “Joe Streno I want you to meet Gary Crosslin.” “Joe is very into reggae he use to have a radio show at our college station.” Gary and I shook hands and we talked music. And we talked and we talked and we talked. It was like finding a kindred soul. I didn’t know anyone who knew that much about music, or was that into roots music … ever! We clicked, like I had never clicked with a person before, nor again. We became fast friends and brothers in the beat. Within a week Gary & I were calling each other … oh hey have you ever heard of this band … no … bring it over let’s give it a spin. I’d trip out to the house the band was living in in Wall Township. Within a month or so Gary asked me to move in with him, Judy “Joots” and their drummer Kenny in the Wall house. All this and more from a meeting at Mrs Jay’s. :) Thanks Candy! And thanks Gary!

I decided to post some of the things I have collected about Gary and the Smoots band. This was the contents of their press kit. The kit cover I designed for them. Also included were a band photo (anyone know who took it?) and articles by Robert Santelli, Chris Barry and others.

PressKitCover
Band-Photo
Night-Owl-Article
Asburt-Park-Press-Article
Chris-Barry-Article
Press-Release
Outlook-Article
Daily-Register-Article

In a future post I will put up some of the live and promo photos I had taken of the Smoots band and of Gary. All in good time :)

BTW … does anyone remember the real name of Vito Roast? I know I know it … but I’ll be damned if I can remeber it! Leave your answer in the comments if you know. Thanks!

Joe Streno
artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing in asbury park nj with his two cats rocky & rose & living to tell tales about it

10 thoughts on “Junior Smoots And The Disturbers

  1. Happy Birthday in the Buddha Land to Gary Smoots !!
    My thoughts always come to his memory at this time, fondly !
    Shout out to all that knew and were touched by him !
    Music sets us free !

  2. Yes, Gary aka Smoots touched and moved so many people in his to short a life,
    How way ahead of the time he was, WE’RE ALL VERY BLESSED TO HAVE KNOWN SUCH A BODHISATVA, Remembering him so very fondly on his birthday today,

  3. saw the band in red bank at the carlton theater around 81-82, loved em’ . i was a bartender at bahr’s famous seafood restaurant back then and when i went into work the next night i could’nt help but rave about seeing and hearing the band. the bar crowd at bahrs was the older type and , i remember the “big kick” they seemed to get out of the name junior smoots and the disturbers. so glad i looked this up after all these years.
    i was sitting in the front row balcony and when they started playing i got goose bumps.

  4. i remember jr smoots comming over my house in perth amboy when i was young . it was probably 1984 or 85. he and my dad (bert) had a mutual friend named don hutnick …..the three of them listened to old salsa and latin jazz music all night…. ive been looking for some old pictures of his band for a long time…. does anyone know where i can get some of there music ?

    beany
    powerguybeany@yahoo.com

    1. Beany … Now that’s a pretty cool memory to have : )

      I lived with Gary and the band for several years. I remember Gary talking about those nights, but I don’t recall any details. Did your dad have a nickname that they may have called him back then?

      If you want Smoots music there were never any records or CDs. But I have Smoots music on my blog here. You can download it in MP3 format.

      If you look to the right of this comment you see “Categories” look under “Music / Junior Smoots” you’ll see all 7 posts that had something to do with the band.

      Thanks for the note about your Dad. It’s always wild to see how much Gary & the band influenced people, or who knew him “back in the day”.

      3 Studio Songs: https://www.go2jo.com/music/junior-smoots-music/

      Live @ Harbor Inn: https://www.go2jo.com/music/junior-smoots-and-the-disturbers-live-at-the-harbor-inn/

  5. Hey,

    Back in ’95, when I was starting a fledgling career as a ska musician, I was given a dub tape of a board recording from a performance ushering in 1983. It was given to me by a coworker at UPS whose name I’ve since forgotten; he said he used to roadie for you guys.

    I played the crap out of this tape until it was lost. I discovered it in a box of stuff today, and it’s back in rotation. Thanks for the good times, and I wish I had seen you in action.

    Best,
    Tedford

  6. Hey, I wrote one of those articles!

    You really got me by surprise. .. I almost fell off the chair when I saw it! : >

    Smoots was great. I posted a few comments here and there on the site that might be interesting to other fans.

    You inspired me to get some Smoots on to YouTube. Maybe I’ll do it on my day off this Friday.

    Kevin

    Kevin LaMastra´s last blog post..The Clash @ Bonds NYC 1981

  7. Hey Joe,
    Long time. Just got off the phone with Kevin. Can’t believe this is still alive. You know how into Smoots I was. Chris Barry called me “The High Priestess of Smootsology”. Kev, Tommy, Vee and the rest of the Blue Gumbo band have been talking for a long time about going into the studio and doing some of the songs that Kev and Jr. wrote.
    Keep in touch and I’ll let you know how things go.
    Send me no rockets and the pressure will drop.
    Vee’s real first name is Jimmy. What’s Kenny talking about. The first picture I see is of the band at the house in Wall.
    My best to a long lost friend.
    Pattie Parker

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