Their appearance at Gov. John Dutton's post-inauguration bash in Season 5 of Yellowstone has Shane Smith & The Saints riding pretty high. But the country band has plenty more up their sleeve.
Throughout its five-plus seasons (and counting), Yellowstone has enthralled viewers with its rugged portrayal of modern life in the American West. At the center of and helping to elevate that depiction is a stellar soundtrack of modern-day outlaws and country western song slingers that has largely lifted up independent artists whom, for the most part, you won’t hear on Top 40 radio anytime soon.
Not only is the music good — it also fits seamlessly into storylines in the Yellowstone world.
Because we leave no stone unturned in the Dutton-verse, we’re taking a closer look at the artists and stories behind the music featured on the show. Kicking things off, we’re looking back at the Season 5 premiere and the band who performed during Gov. John Dutton’s post-inauguration bash, Shane Smith & The Saints.
It's not the first time the Texas-based group’s music has been featured on the show. Near the end of Episode 4 of Season 4, horse trader Travis Wheatley (Taylor Sheridan) proudly proclaims he’s listening to “Shane Smith and the f*****g Saints” in his pickup truck. It’s no accident that the episode was aptly named after the title of the song, “All I See Is You.”
Following that spot on the show, Smith had his manager work to get in touch with Sheridan about playing a free show for him. Little did he know that an even bigger opportunity was right around the corner.
Although the inquiries from his manager didn’t pay off, Smith and his team were later contacted by Yellowstone’s music supervisor, Andrea von Foerster, about being a part of filming for an upcoming episode. After finding a 48-hour gap of free time in the midst of the band’s tour, they flew out to Montana, where they recorded a total of three songs to be included in the episode — “Alex,” “Dance The Night Away,” and “Fire In The Ocean.”
Appearing on the show has led to several gigs performing at events organized by Sheridan like Run for a Million, a top-tier horse reining event held in Las Vegas, along with getting to attend the premiere of Yellowstone spin-off 1923.
It’s all been a lot to handle in the best way possible for Smith, an independent artist who’s been toughing it out on the road for over a decade only dreaming of opportunities like Yellowstone coming his way.
“It’s been a whirlwind going from not having any opportunities like this with TV to suddenly being featured on a show that we’re already such huge fans of, performing at sanctioned events and getting to know the people from it,” Smith tells C&I.
Going from dreaming big to actually achieving some of those dreams, and then some, has been a full-circle moment for Smith & the Saints. That sentiment is at the heart of “Fire in the Ocean,” the band’s latest single and one of the songs performed on the episode that was written during the pandemic when Smith was forced off of the road and away from his bandmates. During that time songwriting was a crutch that helped him get through the isolation, which Smith alludes to as he sings “But have you ever in your mind / Dreamed as far as a fire in the ocean / Or a highway to the stars? / I can dream my way back to your arms.”
Even though its lyrics allude more to trying to fix and dream a past relationship back into reality, Smith says the song’s message is also very emblematic of his musical ambitions and having the patience and tenacity to see it starting to pay off.
“We’ve worked so hard and toured for so long, so it means a lot that one of the songs we were able to perform on the show was one about dreaming big and trying to see it through to the end,” Smith says.
The most serendipitous moment of them all came just a few weeks ago on January 17, when Shane Smith & The Saints went from playing on Yellowstone for the inauguration of fictional Montana Gov. Dutton to performing at the actual inauguration of real-life Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. According to Smith, he and the governor even exchanged a brief laugh prior to the band taking the stage.
“It was a strange, but exciting, full-circle experience for us,” Smith says. “[Gov. Abbott] even looked over at me backstage and jokingly asked how it felt to be getting ready to play at my second ever inauguration. It left me amazed at everything that's happened and all of the opportunities that have come our way the last couple of years.”
Yellowstone is set to return from its midseason break to conclude Season 5 this summer on Paramount+.
To check out more of Shane Smith & The Saints and their music, head to their website and Spotify.