“drummer Dave Smith exhibited a mastery of irresistible rhythms that ran from the Bo Diddley-ish beat of the title track from ‘Carry Fire’ to a simple bass drum-gospel-tambourine accompaniment for ‘The Gallows Pole’. He also brought the mighty rock drive of the Zeppelin songbook with ‘That’s the Way’, ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Bring It on Home’.”
— RANDY LEWIS - LA TIMES. March 3rd 2018
Dave Smith is best known for his work with Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Fofoulah, and Afro-Blues group Juju. He has recorded drums for Rachid Taha, Bassekou Kouyate and Robert Plant and has performed with Patty Griffin, Donny McCaslin, Chrisse Hynde and Eddie Henderson. As co-founder of the Loop Collective, Dave is part of some of the most adventurous musical projects in the UK, which include Strobes, Cloudmakers Trio, Outhouse, MA and Splice. As co-leader of Outhouse Ruhabi and Fofoulah, he is the man behind the most fruitful collision of West African drum music and European jazz yet to surface.
Born in Norwich, Dave began playing drums at the age of nine and was immersed in musical groups playing in orchestras, big bands, and jazz combos. At sixteen Dave was awarded a scholarship to become a specialist musician at Wells Cathedral School where he attended 1997 to 1999. He then went on to study Jazz Performance at the Guildhall School, where he graduated in 2003.
Since graduating, Dave has performed with artists such as Donny McCaslin, Jeanne Added, Hilmar Jensson, Eddie Henderson, Ingrid Jenson, Lukas Kranzilbinder and Ralph Alessi.
Dave's adventure in West Africa started in 2002 when he began to learn Sabar drumming with Wolof musicians in The Gambia. He made many return trips and formed a group called Outhouse Ruhabi with five Sabar musicians and later put together his current co-led band Fofoulah.
It was through these African drumming connections that Dave was invited to join Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara in 2010 for a tour in Japan. They went on to record the following year at Real World Studios with Beak bassist Billy Fuller before being taken on by Robert Plant in July 2012 to be part of his new band Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. Dave performed for 6 years with Robert Plant, touring the world twice over and recording two albums ‘lullaby and the… Ceaseless Roar’ in 2014 and ‘Carry Fire’ in 2017, both on the Nonesuch label. Performance highlights from these tours include playing at Glastonbury Festival , Austin City Limits, the Sydney Opera House, Lollapalooza in South America, The Royal Albert Hall and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. They also appeared on The One Show, Live with Jools Holland, The Colbert Report, The Late Late Show with James Corden and The Tonight Show featuring Jimmy Fallon.