Joe Smith, a Denver based trumpet player and bandleader, started playing music at the age of four when his grandmother introduced him to the blind pianist who lived behind her. At age five Joe began taking formal piano lessons. To keep him inspired and practicing his grandmother used to pay him ten cents an hour to practice after school. At the age of ten Joe picked up the trumpet and never looked back.
During his teenage years Joe spent four years marching in the drum and bugle corps activity, spending two years as a member of the Colts from Dubuque, Iowa, and two years as a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard from Santa Clara, California. Following his time in DCI, Joe studied trumpet with Andy Classen at Drake University before transferring to the University of Iowa where he studied with Dr. Amy Schendel. It was during his time at the University of Iowa that Joe fell in love with vintage jazz music and swing dancing. After completing his degree in music Joe focused on studying some of the vintage jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Buck Clayton, Roy Eldridge, and others.
Currently Joe is the bandleader for three bands in the Denver area: Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles, The Joe Smith Orchestra, and The Red Hot Rhythm Rocket. The Spicy Pickles is a nationally touring six piece band that is spreading their love for vintage jazz and pushing to bring this American art form to a new generation of listeners. They are best known for their musical relationship with swing dancers, especially those in the lindy hop and balboa community. The Red Hot Rhythm Rocket is a sextet that features Hammond B3 organ, and performs in the Denver area playing jazz and blues from the 1940's-1960's, influenced by Milt Buckner, Illinois Jacquet, Jay McShann, and more.
Joe’s freelance trumpet experience has taken him across the United States and includes appearances with the Graystone Monarchs, the Jazz Band Ballers at the famous Spotted Cat in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Craig Gildner Big Band (Washington, DC), Michael Gamble and His Rhythm Serenaders (Asheville, NC), Falty & The Defects (Seattle, WA), Denver Philharmonic Orchestra (Denver, CO), Chico Chico (Austin, TX), Waller Creek Vipers (Austin, TX), and more.
Joe Smith is also the owner and piano technician at 5280 Piano Tuning, based in Denver, Colorado.