Grant Maloy Smith is the midst of a tour that is taking him around the country to promote his unique bluegrass sound and a recent release, “Dust Bowl: American Stories.”

Grant Maloy Smith is the midst of a tour that is taking him around the country to promote his unique bluegrass sound and a recent release, “Dust Bowl: American Stories.”

During the last half of the month, he will be performing in Nashville, Massachusetts and Kentucky before veering off to Port St. Joe; after Gulf County the road leads to Providence, RI., oh, about 1,000 miles north.

“Yeah, that is kind of the life of the musician,” Smith said during a phone interview from, where else, the road. “I kind of got to go where the gigs are.

“Port St. Joe won’t normally be part of the tour, not like that, but it’s a benefit and for a good cause. Plus, it is a part of the country where I grew up.”

Smith, who grew up in Milton with a Kentucky-born grandmother who instilled in him the love of country and bluegrass, so-called Americana music, will headine “Nashville to Port St. Joe” 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 30.

The event will be hosted by the Haughty Heron and will benefit the Iglesia San Jose Obrero humanitarian program for women and children in Manta, Ecuador.

Opening for Smith and his band will be local group, Cypress Trio, which includes Zach McFarland, which is where this whole thing kind of got started.

Zach and his parents, teacher, Kim, and judge, Tim, were in Nashville, had a meal with Randolph and the event kind of fell into place.

"They wondered about putting on an event with Cypress Trio, would I bring some folks from Nashville," said Grant Randolph, event organizer, who has been putting on charity shows for the Ecuador effort for years. "I wanted him to get involved in a charity event. I think it is important for any young artist to do that."

The Haughty Heron, Randolph said, enthusiastically signed on to host the event.

In addition to the concert, therewill be a silent auction which will feature, among a host of other items, guitars signed by Taylor Swift and Brookes & Dunn.

“The guitars alone are probably worth a few hundred dollars, but the autographs of Taylor Swift and Brooks & Dunn, they are priceless,” Randolph said.

“We are proud of the talent we have lined up for this event. If you like country music, (this event) is the place to be. We are trying to do it up right for Port St. Joe.”

The record Smith is supporting, “Dust Bowl”, was three years in the research and writing, Smith said.

At one point, he added, he effectively scrapped his progress and started over.

“A lot of hours went into the writing of this,” Smith said. “It is all set at the time of Dust Bowl. I looked at that time and thought it was rife with a lot of great stories, a lot of drama.

“My main goal in writing it was to capture the hardy nature of people who endured so much, set against the backdrop of the real-life drama of the Dust Bowl. My album is a cautionary tale, but it’s also about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.”

The vision Smith hoped to achieve, he said, was a hybrid, musical and cinematic, to capture the arc from rich farmland to dusty desolation to redemption.

A stark middle leads to a redemptive end at the conclusion of the 11-song release.

The song-set was a natural progression for Smith, who was playing and singing as a young man, born in Jacksonville and raised in Milton.

“My daddy was in the Navy so we moved a lot,” Smith said. “Even as a kid I liked to play the guitar and sing songs.”

His grandmother, born and raised in Kentucky, exposed him to bluegrass and country and Smith was hooked.

“People like music that is about real things and not made in a test tube,” Smith said. “Most of the music on country radio are formulaic. There is a place for that.

“But it kind of left a vacuum for more real music.”

“Dust Bowl” continues that legacy, the videos for the songs containing extensive imagery from the Dust Bowl and the catastrophic impacts to the people of the Midwest.

“There were many factors that led to the Dust Bowl, but a seemingly-endless drought combined with over-farming and poor land management stressed the earth and contributed to one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th century,” Smith said.

“Those same topics resonate today.”

The album garnered excellent reviews and spent 10 weeks this summer in the top 10 of several Billboard sales charts.

“That was nice to see because Billboard is all about sales,” Smith said.

The first single, “I Come From America” is about migrants fleeing west to California and music magazine No Depression called it “one of the best, recent pro-American songs … in a long time.”

In addition to Smith, the lineup for the benefit event includes Justin Love, a rising inspirational singer/songwriter originally from Waco, TX and now residing in Nashville; Keith Wayne, a prolific songwriter and singer living in Nashville; and Grant Randolph, a Nashville-based singer, songwriter, producer and talent manager.

Tickets to “Nashville to Port St. Joe” are $15 at the door. All ages will be admitted for the event.

For more information call 227-1724 or visit “Nashville to Port St. Joe” on Facebook.

The Haughty Heron is located at 117 Sailors Cove Dr. in Port St. Joe.