Hal took up the drums in 1963. Inspired by hearing Ben Pollack, Nick Fatool, Wayne Jones and Fred Higuera in live performance, he has also been influenced by the records of Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Ray Bauduc, Sid Catlett, Dave Tough, Vic Berton and many others.
Hal’s resumé includes work with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, Butch Thompson Trio, New Black Eagles, Climax Jazz Band, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, South Frisco Jazz Band, Yerba Buena Stompers, Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings, Waldo’s Gutbucket Syncopators and more. In addition, Hal has performed with nationally-recognized Swing, Western Swing, Rockabilly and Blues groups.
At present, Hal leads the El Dorado Jazz Band, Mortonia Seven, New Orleans Night Owls and On The Levee Jazz Band. He frequently plays in bands led by Grammy Award Winner Floyd Domino, Banu Gibson and Tim Laughlin and is an instructor at the New Orleans Trad Jazz Camp.
Besides leading bands, working as a sideman and teaching jazz history, Hal is a contributing writer for The Syncopated Times, Just Jazz (U.K.) and the Bulletin of the Hot Club of France. He is one of the editors of the recently released autobiography of Firehouse Five Plus Two/Bob Wills cornetist Danny Alguire: “Dust Bowl to Disney.”
Hal Smith may be heard on over 200 recording sessions; broadcasts of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Riverwalk – Live From The Landing” and numerous YouTube video programs hosted by Loren Schoenberg, John Petters and others.