One of the most revered folk/blues stylists of the last fifty years, Chris Smither has left a vibrant, lasting impression on the roots music world. Armed with a warm, gravelly baritone, deft fingerpicking and a stable of wry, often heartbreaking songs, Smither remains as affecting and dynamic as he did when he burst onto the scene over 40 years ago.
Smither spent his early years in New Orleans, learning guitar at a young age and delving into the acoustic blues of Lightning Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt. After meeting folk legend Eric von Schmidt in 1965, he took the singer’s advice and moved up to the thriving folk revival hotspot of Cambridge, MA. He instantly hooked into the infamous Club 47 folk scene, playing with peers like Bonnie Raitt and becoming one of the faces of the folk blues renaissance. Smither got signed to the Poppy label and recorded his first album I’m a Stranger Too, followed by Don’t it Drag On and then Honeysuckle Dog on the United Artists label in 1973, but the record was dropped and went unreleased.
After a lengthy (ten year) quiet stretch of recording and touring, Smither reemerged into the public eye with the acclaimed comeback record It Ain’t Easy, followed by Smither jumping back into performing and touring. Starting in 1991, Smither embarked on a prolific stretch of recording, releasing an album every other year or so for the next twenty years, all imbued with his trademark honeyed growl, intricate guitar picking and resonant self-deprecating songwriting. In 2014 Smither marked 50 years of songwriting with the release of Still On the Levee – a double-CD retrospective of re-recorded songs, as well as a book of his songwriting Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012. Always a musician’s musician, Smither has graduated to become a beloved elder statesman of acoustic blues and folk that has managed to be as relevant and affecting now as he was during his early 70’s prime.
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