The crowd who thinks country & western is simply a pile of garbage may have found their anti-hero in this artist, not to be confused with an assortment of performers with the same name who could hardly be absorbed into even the most massive landfill. James Smith leads his own country band known as the Scrapyard Dogs in a repertoire that seems to consist largely of songs about the importance of recycling. Smith comes by his perspective honestly, having been in the scrapyard business most of his life. "Scrapman," the title track on Smith's 2001 CD release, provides a clear window into his thought process with lines such as "I'm a scrapman and I love what I do. Cut big steel with a cutting torch, shred whole automobiles too." The Scrapman album continues in this vein. Smith began playing guitar at the age of ten, claiming to have secured his first axe for the grand price of 35 cents, perhaps indicating that this instrument was also found while rummaging around a garbage pile. He started his Smith Metal outfit in 1954, buying and processing scrap metal from salvage yards throughout the southern United States. His band evolved out of an obvious combination of his business and his love of music, roping in friends of similar mind for performances that have included many charity fundraising events. While his songwriting efforts have earned him honors, including an ASCAP award, the recycling business has actually gotten him into hot water including a lawsuit involving the government regulatory body known as Superfund.
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