The members of Big Smith learned how to play music from their ancestors. Songs about bootleggers have been passed down in their family for generations, a heritage documented in Homemade Hillbilly Jam. Previously, the members of Big Smith were poets, teachers and students of music. Mark Bilyeu, for example, wrote his master’s thesis on a fiddle tune, while Jody Bilyeu published poetry in literary magazines like the Moon City Review. Big Smith became a full-time profession for the family in 2007. The band played roughly one-hundred shows in 2009, covering a large portion of America from Colorado to Texas to Tennessee. The band is scheduled to headline Twangfest 14 on June 9, 2010.