Long Distance brings intimate country and rock gems to Plaza Linda.

A Far Cry: Jokin’ and Jammin’: Bill Smith and Long Distance.

It was bound to happen sometime. The invisible wall between band and audience had been assaulted all evening, and the barrier was finally demolished as members of the audience joined local country/rock band Long Distance last Thursday for a rollicking version of Ray Charles’ “Unchain My Heart” in Plaza Linda’s festive courtyard.

Luckily, the three audience members were not drunks trying to steal Long Distance’s steam, but were friends of the band and members of the local oldies group, Class Act.

All evening long, as the group played songs like The Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” and the George Strait hit “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” the band had been trying to make the small but enthusiastic crowd of about 20 patrons a part of their act. While playing Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” singer/guitarist Bill Smith strolled through the crowd while playing guitar. At other times, the band directly addressed the crowd and the crowd would respond like old friends—some of them were.

Long Distance is a country/rock trio composed of local veteran musicians: drummer Dave Hellbusch, keyboardist/bassist Steve Blum, and guitarist/vocalist Terry Shehorn. (Shehorn and Blum also play in the popular local country band, Eight-Second Ride.)

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Smith has a specific reason for driving all the way out to Carmel Valley to join them at their Plaza Linda gigs. “When I play with them, I get the feeling I am playing in my living room, jamming with some friends,” he says.

Long Distance plays Plaza Linda, 9 Delfino Pl., Carmel Valley, Thursday at 7pm. No cover. 659-4229.

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