Archive for February, 2011
A variety of rock and roll, including the music of Elvis, will be featured during Stagelights Community Music Showcase from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Harbor Performing Arts Theater in the Brookings-Harbor Shopping Center.
The Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness (DNACA), a nonprofit local arts agency, presents its fourth performance of the season – Chris Smither, playing blues-influenced folk music – at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24 in Crescent Elk Auditorium, 994 G Street in Crescent City.
Tickets for Chris Smither cost $18 for general admission, $12 for students and seniors 65 years and older, and are available at Del Norte Office Supply in Crescent City, Words and Pictures in Brookings, and at the door beginning at 6:45 p.m. the evening of the show. For more information, contact DNACA at (707) 464-1336.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Smither has been living the life of a troubadour for more than four decades, ever since leaving Tulane University in New Orleans, the town where he was raised. In 1965, he received some advice from of one of his top two musical heroes, Eric von Schmidt (the other is Mississippi John Hurt, who Smither first saw perform in 1964. You can hear that bluesman’s influence in Smither’s guitar work and songs.)
Von Schmidt, who was in Forida at the time, said, “If you want to play, no one down here is going to listen to you. You should go up to Boston and Cambridge and places like that.” So Smither, with a friend, a few clothes and his guitar, traveled north to where there were thriving folk scenes in the coffeehouses and clubs. Several weeks later, he arrived at the now infamous Club 47. Who should be playing that night but Von Schmidt, who invited Smither onstage perform three songs.
“It was my first night in Cambridge and I was playing Club 47! It felt right to me,” recounted Smither in “Baby Let Me Follow You Down,” the seminal book about that era written by von Schmidt and Jim Rooney (University of Massachusetts Press, 1979; second edition 1994). “I found a place to crash that night,” he continued, “and never left . . .Since then I have managed to support myself by singing.”
Smither is primarily a performer – his intricate guitar work, gravely, light and tuneful voice, and stomping foot in performance are all legendary – but he also writes songs and has 13 CDs to his credit, one of them unreleased and two of them live. “Back in the old days,” he mused recently, “writing new songs and making new albums were just chores. My priority was, and still is performing live. I guess I still write the songs and make the record so I can go out and play -- except now I actually enjoy it. I’ve learned how to do it….”
If you are to believe the critics, he does it all well. “Smither delivers one of the most riveting live show you’re ever likely to see, ” wrote Rollingstone.com. “The masterful combination of pure folk songwriting and intricate guitar blues are tangible signs of the singer-songwriter’s vigorous genius” lauded WIRED magazine, “A megawatt solo performer.” “His deep understanding of folk blues, storytelling finesse, rhythmic foot-tapping and warm guitar tones make him one of the finest of the genre,” noted the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My Eric Clapton,” said Bonnie Raitt about his influence on her.
Smither’s songs have been covered by other musicians; notably Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall, and used in an independent film called “The Ride.” Each of his albums contain mostly original songs, but also include two to three carefully chosen covers which can arguably pack more punch more than their original recordings. There is a rousing version of “Dust My Broom” by Robert Johnson on “Live as I’ll Ever Be” (HighTone, 2000), an upbeat take on “Crocodile Man” by Dave Carter on “Train Home” (HighTone, 2003), and a soulful rendering of “Madame Geneva’s” by Mark Knopfler on Smither’s most recent CD, “Time Stands Still” (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2009). For more information on the artist and his music, go to www.smither.com online.