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Chris Smither

Like John Hammond and a handful of other musicians whose careers began in the 1960s blues revival, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Chris Smither can take pride in the fact that he's been there since the beginning. Except for a few years when he was away from performing in the '70s, Smither has been a mainstay of the festival, coffeehouse, and club circuits around the U.S., Canada, and Europe since his performing career began in earnest in the coffeehouses in Boston in the spring of 1966. Smither is best known for his great songs, items like "Love You Like a Man" and "I Feel the Same," both of which have been recorded by guitarist Bonnie Raitt. Raitt and Smither got started at about the same time in Boston, though Smither was born and raised in New Orleans, the son of university professors.

Smither's earliest awareness of blues and folk music came from his parents' record collection. In a 1992 interview, he recalled it included albums by Josh White, Susan Reed, and Burl Ives. After a short stint taking piano lessons, Smither switched to ukulele after discovering his mother's old instrument in a closet. The young Smither was passionately attached to the ukulele, and now, years later, it helps to explain the emotion and expertise behind his unique fingerpicking guitar style. Smither discovered blues music when he was 17 and heard a Lightnin' Hopkins album, Blues in the Bottle. The album was a major revelation to him and he subsequently spent weeks trying to figure out the intricate guitar parts. Smither moved to Boston after realizing he was a big fish in a small pond in the New Orleans folk/coffeehouse circuit of the mid-'60s. Also, acoustic blues pioneer Ric Von Schmidt had recommended Smither check out the Boston folk-blues scene.

Smither recorded his first couple of albums for the Poppy label in 1970 and 1971, I'm a Stranger Too and Don't It Drag On. In 1972, Smither recorded a third album, Honeysuckle Dog, for United Artists, which finally saw release on the Heavenly label in the mid-2000s. On the sessions for that album, he was joined in the studio by his old friends Bonnie Raitt and Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John. After a long bout with alcoholism, Smither launched his recording career again in the late '80s, although he hadn't stopped performing. His return to a proper recording career, due to a deal with Flying Fish Records, didn't happen again until 1991, when the label released Another Way to Find You, a folk-blues album. Smither recorded It Ain't Easy for the Adelphi label in 1984; the album was re-released on CD ten years later.

Since then, he's more than proved his mettle as an enormously gifted songwriter, releasing albums mostly of his own compositions for the Flying Fish, Hightone, and Signature Sounds labels. Smither's albums during the '90s and into the 21st century include Happier Blue (1993, Flying Fish), Up on the Lowdown (1995, Hightone), Drive You Home Again (1999, Hightone), Live as I'll Ever Be (2000, Hightone), Train Home (2003, Hightone), Leave the Light On (2006, Signature Sounds), and Time Stands Still (2009, Signature Sounds), a career highlight. Any of Smither's releases are worthy of careful examination by guitarists and students of all schools of blues and folk music. Smither is still, to some extent, an unheralded master of modern acoustic blues. Fortunately, his recordings and festival bookings during the '90s and into the 21st century have elevated his profile to a higher level than he's ever enjoyed previously. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Have seen him several times since Don't drag it on and he is always good. When watching him play his picking skills are incredible and mysterious. He is a true troubadour. David King
lbfoh
Chris had the same manager as the act I was touring with in 1971/72 and he opened for us several times across the country. I was blown away from the first song and never missed a moment when he was on stage. He hasn't lost the spark and doesn't seem to have come close to exhausting his bag of songs.
saw him last night..excel l e n t . . . w h a t a great musician, singer songwriter.. . a seasoned preformer
Love 'Leave the Light On", thanks Pandora for helping me to discover Chris Smither!
Have seen him a dozen times or more. Great every time. Not to mention a wry sense of humor.
Have never seen him but would love to. My favorite is Let it Go
Great to see live......he ' s got the most fluid guitar style I've ever seen
I've seen him twice and learned more from listening AND watching him create and ride the groove-he is immensely talented in every aspect of his music: singing, playing, writing-all brilliant-al l feeling- I can't say enough about his spirit...
My first time listening. Amazing. My iPhone is good for something.
Old school and catchy! I love the lyrics - a friend of bill w.' s
hwsongs
nothing hurried. everything in place. entertaining and inspiring!
chris.corbet t 4
I became a fan in1994. Chris has visited us in Australia a few times and we have been to three of his performances . A great musician and a really nice bloke.
I see him and believe I have seen the Muse speaking unhindered, playing effortlessly and it just doesn't get better. Why isn't Happier Blue listed on his discography? Was introduced to Chris in the late 80's and wish I had seen his early days. Still, he is top tops.
Saw him a couple months ago in CT and he was great
kirsten.mong
Small revolations is my favorite album, ever.
I discovered Chris driving on a grey rainy day. No Love Today came on the radio and the song and atmosphere meshed and I was hooked.
mkilhullen
Lol, Candy Man lyrics are hilarious
I love this man's finger style and how he adds rhythm with his feet on the amplified board.
letskeepinto u c h 1
mello relaxing just chillin to my core music i love his sound voice and lyrics and vibrations in my ear of the guitar.
Oh I forgot he was here in Alaska a few months back, by the time I heard he was coming, tickets were sold out...in two days,,,Chris , , , n e x t time your up here,please stay longer.....
I have an album of his that's called "live as I'll ever be" from 2000.
Didn't see it on the list here, but listening to the other albums on this new Pandora, it is his best. If your a fan as I, find it... you'll love it.
phiggins44
..Best venue Peterborough NH, folding chairs, great accoustics.. . L o v e that tapping foot...he always takes me home with a smile.
blixiebimber
Went to a rock and roll workshop my boyfriend was enrolled in at UNH in 1969 or 70. He was explaining the Delta Blues to us but I didn't know he grew up in NOL till now. Loved listening to and watching him and have been hooked ever since.
Just saw him in Hudson, New York. Gifted. Touching. Funny. His song about his kid, "I don't know" made me weep.
My favorite picker , you have to love his voice .
Following Chris Smither since before Happier Blue. I have seen him all over the US from Joshua Tree to Westport, White River Junction to Peterborough , NYC to Charlotte... I think he and Patty Larkin are my top. More than any other artists I hear them speaking just from the heart. Wow.
Just saw him on Mountain Stage "NPR radio show in West Virginia" fantastic individual love his voice and lyrics!!!
patrickh819
What about live as ill ever be???
i've seen him twice this year.....abs o l u t l y world class
a players player, great songwriter and entertainer

one of the best
Nobody has mentioned his adding rhythm with his foot. A trademark of his since the beginning.
zenflydad
Just saw Chris Smither tonight at a live gig in Charleston, WV with a brilliant 'a capella' trio called 'Bare Bones' opening for him. One of the best concerts I've ever been at, and I've been around a while - even at the Rolling Stones' first ever gig in the U.S. back in San Bernardino, CA forty-some odd years ago...
Might also want to try "Train Home" - pretty ballads as well as rousing Crocodile Man (...Thanksgi v i n ' dinner at the Top Hat Lounge).

Teek
Every album is better than the last for the last decade. Maybe, someday, he'll get lost and end up playing here.
Love Chris! Seen him many times. Just saw him at Falcon Ridge Folk Fest in NY last week. He wrote "Love You Like a Man" when he was 19! Bonie Raitt made it famous.
angrymonkeyt o a s t
Live as I'll Ever Be - greatest guitar album ever. Not quite as good as seeing him live (which is a must!) but as close as you'll get on a recording.
dig jailhouse blues
catchy lyrics. i like this guy.
I saw him once in a very small venue in Fremont Michigan. What an amazing talent. He had all of us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end. I would love to see him again in a small setting.
Found him while browsing blues tittles on second spin. I heard Bonnie Rait backing him up and said " where was I when he performed." Better late then never, I could listen to him every day, and remain charmed by his "rascality."

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