Jay Smith, a guitarist best known for his work with East Coast rocker Matt Mays, died Wednesday while the band was on tour in Edmonton.
"Our guitar player and dear friend Jay Smith passed away this morning in Edmonton. As you can all imagine, we are completely devastated," Mays wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday evening, March 27. "However, in our heart of hearts we know that we need to Play on. Jay's family as well as the band know he would have wanted it that way. All of the proceeds from the remaining shows will be put into a trust for his two beautiful children. Jay's wit, charm, and unparalleled love of music will never be forgotten.
"He was our brother and he will live in our hearts and song forever.
Matt, Serge Damien, Adam and Matt."
It's unclear what the cause of death was, though CBC reports he was found in his hotel room and that "foul play is not suspected." The band was slated to play in Calgary tonight at Flames Central with guests July Talk after playing The Starlite Room in Edmonton Tuesday evening. They were scheduled to begin a U.S. tour with Gaslight Anthem in mid-April.
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Last week, Smith was in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week, performing with Mays as well as Tim Chaisson on March 22 at Toronto's Kool Haus and El Mocambo, respectively.
Originally fronting his own band Rock Ranger from 1999 to 2007 as a guitarist and singer, Smith, a native of Cape Breton, joined forces with Mays backing band El Torpedo in 2007 and appeared on the 2008 album "Terminal Romance." Smith replaced former El Torpedo guitarist Jarrett Murphy who left the band in early 2007.
"I've made the band louder, heavier for sure," Smith told the Cape Breton Post in late 2007. "El Torpedo is basically turning into a rock band."
According to the Music Nova Scotia site, Smith took home the 2009 East Coast Music Award for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year for co-writing the Gordie Sampson song "We Are Young And So Is The Night." On his bandcamp site, Smith released a solo self-titled debut but had also worked with Al Tuck, Willie Nile, Tim Chaisson and Christina Martin among others.
On hearing the news musicians added their comments and condolences on Smith's passing. "very, very sad news," Hey Rosetta! wrote. "Jay was a terrific man. he will be missed dearly. our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and bandmates." "ODDS LOVE JAY," Odds drummer Pat Steward added.
"I've always heard that to play in a band you have to make sacrifices," Smith acknowledged in that 2007 Cape Breton Post article,a quote that now takes on an unimaginable sadness. "I truly know what that means now. I missed out on my kid's first steps. Hopefully I won't miss his graduation."
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
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