Tim Akers and The Smoking Section prepare to bring funky grooves to Brentfest

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Music City is obviously loaded with musical talent. But, much of that talent remains largely hidden in the background.

Take studio session musician Tim Akers, for example. 

Akers heads a 16-member band — Tim Akers and The Smoking Section — which is made up of veteran studio musicians just like him. 

Those who are not familiar with Akers and his band will get a chance to hear them play starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, during Brentfest, a party to celebrate Brentwood turning 50 years old held at Crockett Park. 

While the band members might not be well-known to some people, many of them have been associated with some massive country music hits.

“If you added up the records they’ve played on, it would number in the thousands,” said Akers, a keyboardist, songwriter and producer.

With 40 years in the music business, Akers, who has called Williamson County home since 1994, has worked with many well-known artists in the industry. 

“I’ve played on records with Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Kid Rock,” he said. 

Akers met all his fellow band members through studio work. Amid breaks, he would work on arranging his own works of music, doing covers from the likes of Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder. 

About 10 years ago, the band performed its first show together just for the fun of playing at local Nashville clubs. 

“When you hear the band play, the level of precision is so high, because these guys all cut their teeth in recording studios, where the standards are very high,” Akers said. 

The band’s name derives from a play on words.

“It’s not a rhythm section, it’s not a horn section, it’s not a vocal section. They’re so hot, they’re smokin’,” Akers said.

While the band still plays the club scene periodically, it has also branched out to play corporate and community events such as Brentfest.

Akers says the upcoming performance will feature “funky, danceable music” with a horn section.

In 2015, the band released its own unique take on “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, garnering more than 1.7 million views on YouTube. Other notable covers by the band include “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and “Hello” by Adele. 

“It’s just really energetic and fun,” Akers said. “It’s all our favorite songs. There’s a whole lot of joy on stage.”

This will be the first time the band has ever performed in Brentwood. 

“It feels great,” Akers said. “We’re honored to be a part of it.”

Akers seems to enjoy the anonymity that comes with being a studio musician. 

“I don’t know that any of us are very famous,” he said. “That’s been the real legacy of studio musicians. We’re the guys nobody’s heard of, and most people never see us. That’s what makes it fun for us.”

The pure joy of being together on stage with fellow band members is what Akers looks forward to during every show, not any sort of fame. 

“You will notice that just about everyone on stage is grinning ear to ear,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of joy on the stage when we play because we’re all just having a ball.”

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