BATHURST musical duo Smith and Jones have come a long way from when they once called themselves the “rootinest, tootinest” cowgirls in the Central West.
Sophie Jones and Abby Smith, the women behind one of Bathurst’s most well known musical duos, are this morning celebrating the success of their biggest gig.
On Friday night an excited Smith and Jones joined some of the top names in Australian music on stage at the Inland Sea of Sound Festival on Mount Panorama-Wahluu – and they’re still pinching themselves.
The pair met when Abby worked at Bathurst’s once famous Stop'n'rock music store on William Street.
“I used to spend my paycheck in there,” Sophie said of the store which has since closed down.
A joint love of singing and playing inspired the women to start up a soul choir group – the CanBeltos Choir.
“I love soul music … we have never had to cancel it [a choir performance] because of a lack of numbers,” Abbey said.
What began as a choir soon turned into the duo hitting the stage together with their “very country sound”.
“We were the rootinest, tootinest cowgirls in the Central West,” Sophie said.
“We played Johnny Cash, Dusty Springfield and Patsy Cline.”
The duo played covers, and loved being able to play any request put to them by the audience.
“It was a good three years playing in pubs and trying to create a following,” Abbey said.
But this year has marked a significant change in direction for the duo.
“This year we’ve really headed in a new direction, we do all originals, only originals,” Sophie said.
The change has both excited and terrified the seasoned performers.
“I find it less scary than covers,” Abbey said. “I find it easier to play and sing if I play my own stuff.”
For Sophie it is a little different.
“I feel more comfortable and confident doing covers because that’s all I’ve known,” she said. “For me it’s been so scary.
“Abbey has come from an originals background.
First and foremost, before the choir, before Smith and Jones, we’re best friends.Sophie Jones from Smith and Jones
“It’s challenged both of us, but now, looking back, it’s been really great."
But the women agree that their greatest strength lies in their differences.
“We’re different. Sophie has qualities that I don’t have. Sophie can talk to anyone,” Abbey said.
“Without Abbey we wouldn’t have the songs because she writes them,” Sophie said.
For Friday night’s gig at the Inland Sea of Sound, the duo admit they were pretty nervous to share the stage with their heroes – Vika and Linda Bull from well-known Australian group The Black Sorrows.
Sophie and Abbey gush that Vika and Linda can sing amazing harmonies that they admire.
But for Smith and Jones, their Inland Sea of Sound Festival performance signaled that they had reached another level in their careers.
The headlining acts of The Black Sorrows and Kate Miller-Heidke are both very well known in the industry, and to share the bill with them was a great honour, Sophie and Abbey said.
“The hard work of playing so many gigs and sharing the experience, you do get the rewards,” Abbey said.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Sophie said.
Looking towards their future, and their first ever recording next month, they are hopeful of having the qualities needed for success.
“The only time there’s been any anger is when we haven’t communicated,” Sophie said.
“First and foremost, before the choir, before Smith and Jones, we’re best friends.”