SmokeyFolk

The Band

A new sound is making waves in the Ozarks, bringing a home-grown style so distinctive that fans of all genres of music will find something to love in the band Smokey Folk.

The seven-man group, based out of Springfield, Missouri, merges the hard-rocking talent of The Last True Heathens with the creative songwriting genius and wicked lead guitar play of Smokey Folk founder Jeff Johnson. The two bands recently merged, generating a bigger sound than either band could create on its own.

Jeff Johnson - Vocals / Rhythm and Lead Guitar

Johnson found his musical soul as a young boy intrigued by the myriad keys on a school piano in Kansas, where he stunned teachers by playing Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" with no training at all.

With a gifted ear for musical notes, he taught himself to play more instruments - first piano,then electric guitar, classical guitar, the drums and surprisingly the cello. He picked up a bass guitar and quickly figured it out, too, teaching his wife, Cara, how to play as an original Smokey Folk band member.

He hears new sound patterns in his head, and then translates them into words that emerge as deeply philosophical lyrics or sing-along tunes anyone can enjoy. Smokey Folk already has two albums under its belt, both CDs featuring original music crafted entirely from Johnson's vision for the band's sound.

Drew Beine - Vocals / Rhythm Guitar

Johnson now shares lead singing duties with Drew Beine, founder of The Last True Heathens before the bands merged. Following his music-major mom's lead, Beine also took up piano and started playing guitar at age 12. Three years later he started his first band, Illegitimate Love Child, the name offering a telling clue of the big personality that Beine would bring to several more band projects.

With The Last True Heathens, Beine says the band played together for 2-1/2 years, "having a hell of a good time, and playing our guts out, but without any kind of rehearsal, or solid management effort to take our music to the next level."

In the summer of 2016, Johnson invited Beine to play bass with Smokey Folk, and Beine didn't hesitate.

"I've always loved Smokey Folks music, and I knew how meticulous Jeff was about his sound and performance," Beine says. " I'm much more relaxed in my style and approach, just, rock out have fun and roll with the punches, and I felt I would be inadequate for Jeff's caliber, but I was excited to give it a shot. We immediately hit it off, and our musical chemistry was obvious. After a few weeks of rehearsal, I was committed to being a part of this amazing sound. Over the next few months, several ups and downs caused serious conversation between Jeff and I about what we had, what we were capable of, and what we needed to do to make it happen. The conclusion became a merger."

Payton Easley - Rhythm and Lead Guitar / Vocals

Guitarist Payton Easley was born and raised in Northwest Arkansas, growing up on his grandparents farm. He started playing guitar at 14.

"Instantly, I fell in love with the instrument," he says. "Since I was 18 I've been playing around Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Blues and Rock make up the foundation of my playing, but I try to keep an open mind and learn anything I can from the people I get to play with. I played in a bluegrass band for 3 years and played with a handful of rock/party bands throughout the years."

Warren Dietzel - Bass / Vocals

Filling out the low end on bass is Warren Dietzel, the veteran of the group. He was raised on the music of Bill Monroe, The Beatles and the music of the 60s and 70s. And his musical path began on an unusual note, getting his formal training performing for the public as a member of the handbell choir with the Anglican Church.

Trumpet with the school band, electric guitar at age 15 and bass guitar soon after, Warren also began playing drums and discovered the music of The Grateful Dead, following the band for several years, steeping himself in their music.

Warren learned to play the mandolin, moved to San Francisco, and spent nearly a decade "playing and seeing as much music as possible."

He played in a series of bands, including the indie rock band River of Rust and the cosmic cowboy band The Dedicated Maniacs, which he helped found. Since moving to Arkansas almost 10 years ago he has performed with such venerable acts as GUTA, Candy Lee and The Sweets, Cutty Rye, and The Last true Heathens.

Also a gifted singer, Warren brings his decades of experience and breadth of musical knowledge to the new Smokey Folk.

David Pyck - Keyboard

Keyboardist David Pyck's musical career started with piano lessons in northern New Jersey.

"My poor piano teacher struggled years trying to get me to play classical charts like Chopin, but I was in love with ragtime," Pyck says. "After moving to Springfield, I did the normal band activities, including picking up the tuba as the concert band frankly couldn't find one. I then started learning jazz with the Missouri State jazz program under the direction of Randy Hamm. That was where I evolved and laid the foundation of a musician that I am today."

He started playing for a praise and worship group at his local parish, while at the same time joining a cover band named Nixa City Limits. After several years and an evolution of that band, he started playing with a variety of casual local bands ranging from blues to honky-tonk/rockabilly. He eventually found his way to the Last True Heathens.

"After a couple years tagging around with those hoodlums, the future looks promising," says the new Smokey Folk keyboard player.

Rob Storms - - Drummer

                                           

Rob grew up on the classic hits from the 60’s and 70’s and always had a passion for music.  Following the advice of his formerly professional accordion - playing grandmother, he joined the school band in 6th grade and immediately knew he was born to be a percussionist. Rob received his first drum set when he was 12 years old and began playing music with his older brother, who played guitar. He started his first band when he was 15 and has been playing across Arkansas and Missouri ever since.  Rob has always been enjoyed live music and has seen hundreds of shows across the world. He enjoys all styles of music and draws influence from each experience. His passion for music and performing in front of others have allowed him to perform at national festivals including Wakarusa, Rocklahoma, and Riverfest.

Rob has played with a variety of different bands spanning a broad spectrum of music, including everything from funk to rock to metal. He has performed with the metal band Sinking South and was also part of the progressive metal bands Left Holding the Gun and Human. He also played with rock groups Bright Shade, Benjamin del Shreve, and The Airplanes.