David Hanbury grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and is a conservatory-trained actor. He first performed in theater with Ryan Landry’s Gold Dust Orphans in Boston and Provincetown. Landry put a gray wig on Hanbury and had Hanbury portray bizarre schoolmarms, nosy neighbors and other matronly characters in various stage comedies. Eventually, Hanbury developed the character of Mrs. Smith, a neurotic with a dysfunctional history and an ability to wail on electric guitar. Smith performed at the Guitar Gods Festival, and won the 2016 Shred for Your Life contest at Webster Hall. Hanbury now resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Mrs. Smith's performance at le Poisson Rouge tonight, entitled While My Guitar Gently Shreiks, definitively was not female impersonation in the traditional sense, even though the shredder was a man in drag. While infused with elements of cabaret, character acting, and improvisational comedy, its axis spun on steaming guitar-based hard rock. Aided by several between-song videos that helped thread a loony story of Smith's grief and trauma, Smith and her band, the Rage, blazed through raw interpretations of songs by Jimi Hendrix, Prince and other classic rockers. While many cover bands perform a similar catalogue, Smith's solos were uniquely jaw-dropping, recalling the best of the guitar greats. Midway into the hour-long concert, Smith switched to acoustic guitar and similarly played with eye-rolling deftness. Throw in some outlandish tall tales of royalty, kidnappings and missing cats, and Mrs. Smith had an absurdly innovative vehicle to bring to audiences seeking the wild.
Visit Mrs. Smith at www.worldofsmith.com.