A BETTER PLACE is Roger Len Smith's third CD. The Austin-based singer-songwriter, guitar-slinger and multi-instrumentalist is a modern jam-based roots-rocker incorporating many overlapping musical styles with intelligent, mind-probing and often humorous lyrics. A BETTER PLACE features the hits 'Can't Get Next To You,' 'Talk On' and 'Slowly Slowly Lord.' Born in Chicago, reared in Cincinnati and groomed in Southern California, Raj started on piano as a kid, then picked up guitar in his late teens and later bass, mostly because nearly everyone else was either a guitarist or a drummer, or both. Playing both bass for bands and songwriters and leading his own groups on guitar, Raj has also collaborated with a variety of other artists and writers. The songs on Raj's three recordings range from driving moody rockers to alt-country barnburners and ballads to funk numbers to power pop-tinged folk, a veritable jam-band flavored musical soup. Reviews testify: 'crafty, knowing lyrics' (Relix), 'a cross between Dylan, Zevon and Petty,' (Music Connection), 'roots-rock with substance and variety' (The Islander), 'subtle, smooth, spirit-lifting rock" (Rockzillaworld), and "hooks, taste and soul" (High Bias). In late 2005, Smith released A BETTER PLACE. His first album, NATIONAL BOULEVARD, released in 1997 under the moniker The Shrubbers, and MY BEST FRIEND (2001) are all on his Big Rock Entertainment label and available through CD BABY, except NATIONAL BOULEVARD, currently out of print. A BETTER PLACE was produced by Smith in Los Angeles over the course of the first few years of the 21st century and released in November, 2005, after Raj settled in Austin, the undisputed live music capital of the world. Ten original songs make up A BETTER PLACE, many of them uptempo and energetic, as well as the ecologically-minded protest song 'Because The Water' and the midtempo Irish-style folk ballad Raj wrote in honor of his niece 'The Simple Things 'R The Hardest To Find (Sierra's Song).' The minor-key funk number 'Slowly Slowly Lord' examines the incredibly dense complexities of religion and man's fate and then things get light again with a song Raj wrote in his college days with a couple drinking buddies, "High Street," the main drag in Oxford, Ohio, where Raj attended Western College of Miami University. It was there that Raj got heavily involved in producing and performing at benefit concerts. He helped organize over twenty benefits for various causes in his junior and senior years including concerts for Amnesty International, Coalition Against Apartheid, Students For Peace, the Rainforest Action Network and one he founded, OX-AID, assisting the Oxford Welfare Agency. Smith's benefit work continued upon moving to Santa Barbara where he organized more benefits, wrote for the local newspapers and performed in a handful of bands including The Chameleons and Twelve Stories. After moving down the coast to L.A. to play bass for songwriter Phil Cody, Smith embarked on another chapter of performing and producing, recording with Cody on his first three albums, three consecutive albums playing bass and writing with songwriter Shawn Amos and a slew of other recording projects. Smith's two most recent benefit concert productions were 'Help On The Way,' a Tsunami Relief concert in Austin in February, 2005 and 'Rock For Relief,' a benefit for the United Way shortly after 9/11. Raj has toured the United States and Europe many times as both a singer-songwriter and bassist for other artists including his old buddy Phil Cody, Shawn Amos, The Water Bunnies and Mark Seliger & Rusty Truck. In the studio, Raj has worked extensively with Wallflower & Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee, Garrison Starr, Steve McCormick, Phil Cody, Shawn Amos, Glenn Nishida, Jeff Gross, Ben Peeler (Wallflowers, Mavericks) and also Bryan Head (Peter Case), Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai), Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos), Shannon McNally, Astrid Young, Jim Mason, Janet Robin, Chris Hickey, Sally Dworsky and many other fine musicians. Over the years, Raj has toured and/or opened for such acts as Warren Zevon, The New Cars, Todd Rundgren, Tracy Chapman, Barenaked Ladies, Little Feat, Violent Femmes, Pete Droge, Linda Perry, John Hammond, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, The Freewheelers, Low N' Sweet Orchestra, Carla Olson and more. Thank you for listening and reading and we hope you get it. Drop us a line and thanks for supporting new music in the 21st Century. Aloha!