By Mary Windsor, Staff Writer
Published in print Mar. 4, 2015
“Something’s going on around here,” sang Cyrus Smith, strumming his guitar, he waxes poetic and sings melodious tunes on Friday nights at The People’s Perk, the recently opened coffee shop on Mendenhall Street. Smith is a relocated artist, musician and museum curator from Portland, Oregon.
He moved away from lush forests and overcast skies and has now called Greensboro his home for about a year now. Originally, he moved here to be an Artist in Residence at Elsewhere Museum, but is now the Building Curator, where he facilitates installations and oversees the maintnaince of the museum.
A project about revolutionary flags from North Carolina was what initially drew Smith to the area in 2009. He came alone with maroon station wagon, which he calls a “good friend,” and all of his belongings.
“I’m just happy to be on the adventure that is my life,” said Smith. Moving to Greensboro was initially a challenge for Smith, but he’s no stranger to the feeling. He’s lived in California, Oregon, and Washington before coming to North Carolina.
Still, Greensboro was a big change for Smith. Living in a washed up textile city in a
Southern state is a far cry from Portland, with its rainy weather, public transit and culture that caters to millennials.
“The cultural difference here is striking, sure, but Portland feels like a small town and so does Greensboro,” said Smith. “I like that small town feel, like you know your neighbors and that they care. That’s important to have. I do miss Portland summers, though.”
Smith has already found a lot of the hidden gems in Greensboro, such as Glenwood Books and Coffee, Elsewhere and the people who are passionate about their aspirations.
Smith studied art for a long time, getting his MFA in Art and Social Practice at Portland State University and has worked in several museums. Now, his primary creative focus is playing music.
Smith has been performing and playing live music since 1996, when he was in high school. He plays the guitar, bass and ukulele.
Taking inspiration from small moments in life that turn into large moments, and large moments that end up becoming something small, Smith writes many of his songs and performs covers as well.
As most musicians, he writes about life and his journey through time and the experiences he gathers along the way.
Smith recently went on a tour of California and Oregon with his band, Cicada Song. He claims that playing with other musicians is one of the greatest feelings he knows.
“There’s something about the synergy you have with other musicians, energy in the room that you create yourself. It has this intangible power over me and those who experience music in a live setting with you.”
In a soft-spoken tone, Smith confessed that the hardest place for him to find inspiration was often right in front of him. “You have to focus your attention in the right way, to find what you’re looking for.”