Rocker Chad Smith heads home for day of meet-and-greet

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 23, 2014

 Drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be in town June 16 to visit with fans in the Birmingham-Bloomfield area and talk about early music education and substance abuse.

Drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be in town June 16 to visit with fans in the Birmingham-Bloomfield area and talk about early music education and substance abuse.

BIRMINGHAM/ WEST BLOOMFIELD — It wasn’t long ago that the Birmingham Historical Museum opened its exhibit “The Sound of Birmingham,” featuring Bloomfield Hills native Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other notable music acts that got their start in the area.

But the exhibit must already be making waves, because Smith himself has decided to come and check out the attraction next month. While he’s here, he’ll be meeting with local fans and giving back to the Birmingham-Bloomfield area that fueled his musical passion years ago.

It all happens June 16, when Smith will make an appearance at the historical museum for a unique meet and greet with local music lovers. It will be the first time he’s seen the exhibit since the museum worked with his brother, Brad Smith, to curate the tribute.

“Brad knows his brother better than anybody, and he knows his value system. Brad knew that if there was going to be a museum collection of Chad’s (memorabilia) that it had to be consistent with Chad’s values,” said Leslie Pielack, of the Birmingham Historical Museum.

From 4-5 p.m. that day, Smith will tour the museum and mingle with guests. There will be a silent auction featuring a collection of signed items, including a Fender guitar, a copy of a program from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the night the Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted, and a ball cap — a signature item Smith wears during performances.

“The reception component will be for people who really want to have that up-close and personal experience with Chad,” said Pielack.

Later, at 7 p.m., Smith will head over to the Berman Center for Performing Arts in West Bloomfield for a special Q-and-A session and performance. The night will be focused largely on Smith’s early music education with Bloomfield Hills Public Schools and choices he made while he was young that afforded him opportunities down the line.

The format for the evening was developed by the Bloomfield Hills Community Coalition and Axis Music Academy. Substance-free communities and early music education are two causes Smith has advocated strongly for in the past. In March of 2013, Smith joined the National Association of Music Merchants in Washington, D.C., to lobby for comprehensive music education in public schools.

Andrea Antone, director of marketing at AMA, said the Berman event will be exciting for music fans of all ages. That’s especially true for the winner of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s summer Battle of the Bands contest, for which AMA partners with the BBCC to provide judging and prizes. The winner of the battle will have the chance to perform onstage with Smith that night. So will a selection of other Axis instructors and student musicians.

“He’ll spend 45 minutes talking about the importance of music education, and also a bit about the things he’s gone through in his life when he could’ve gone in the wrong direction but chose the right path. We’re promoting the positive aspect of music,” said Antone.

Proceeds from admission to the reception, the Berman event and the silent auction will be split between the Birmingham Historical Museum, AMA, the BBCC, and the Joan and Curt Smith Scholarship fund at AMA.

Tickets are still available for both events; tickets for the reception are $50 each and can be purchased by calling the Birmingham Historical Museum at (248) 530-1928, and tickets for the Berman event are $17 for people 17 and younger, or $28 for those 18 and older, and can be purchased by going to theberman.org/box-office.

The Berman Center for Performing Arts is located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.