After wild runs at Camp Bar and Bryant-Lake Bowl, Mrs. Smith left the Twin Cities to seek fortune out East. Since then, she has performed off-Broadway, grown an Instagram following, starred in a Gucci commercial, and perfected her guitar-shredding.
It’s been four long years since singing cat lady and New Age guru Mrs. Smith graced Twin Cities stages. Now, she’s back -- for an evening, at least -- and taking her guitar-theatrics and cat-oriented entertainment to Lush Bar.
“It was a real trip,” says Mrs. Smith of doing Mrs. Smith's Broadway Cat-tacular! at the 47th Street Theatre in 2015. “The off-broadway show was the most exhausting singing marathon I’d ever been through in my life. It was torture, belting for an hour and 20 minutes straight.”
Smith has always played guitar in her shows, but it was never her focus -- until recently. “I didn’t identify as a musician,” Smith says.
Then Smith entered the Guitar Gods concert contest. “It was like an online video thing,” she says. “There had been a video of me playing a Joe Satriani song at the BLB block party, and then it had been edited into a super cut crazy video and had been on YouTube for a long time.”
When she entered the contest, the guitar community saw it. At the concert in Miami, she met stars like Ynge Malmsteen and Steve Vai, who started sending Smith’s video to a bunch of folks.
Eventually, she went back to New York, where she entered a live guitar-shredding contest at Webster Hall. “It was all of these hard rockers and me in my red skirt suit,” Smith says. “Before I went on, I was sure there was some way to get out of this. There was some way to escape the theater and not be seen. They seemed like very rough, sweaty boys with tattoos... it was very rough and tumble.”
Worried they would make fun of her, Smith found that they embraced and supported her. “I’m like their long-lost auntie who is back to shred for her life.”
Around this time Smith was also playing her guitar in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park, where she was discovered by fashion photographer Petra Collins.
Collins messaged Mrs. Smith on Instagram. “I didn’t know who she was, because I’m not fashionable in the least,” Smith says. She was blasé about the project, until she management contacted her wanting to make travel arrangements to Budapest to make the video. “That’s when I really fell off my chair,” she says.
In the Gucci commercial, Smith plays a magical guitar-playing figure, who whisks away two children on a rock 'n' roll adventure.
“Of course the clothes are all insanely expensive," she says. "There’s a small army of people that put the rings on your fingers, they take pictures of your hands. They make sure they take everything back when they’re done.”
While she was in Budapest, Guitar World Magazine posted a video featuring Smith. It ended up getting 1.2 million views. “I woke up and the guitar internet was broken,” she says. “And every one was saying, 'Who is this person?'”
This weekend's show at Lush will be filled of tunes by Prince, Taylor Swift, Metallica, Jimmy Hendrix, and a few old showtune classics thrown in for good measure. There will also be a segment where she'll offers advice and answer questions about cats.
“I gotta keep all my demographics happy,” Smith says. “The cat people, the guitar people, fancy boys, brusque gals. You gotta keep them all satisfied. People are very demanding.”
IF YOU GO:
Whatever Happened to Mrs. Smith?
6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6
$10; $20 VIP
990 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis