December 4, 2004

Chris Smither

Passionate ... Soulful

CHRIS SMITHER hris Smither has slowly perfected the art of solo performance for more than 30 years. He is now among a handful of American singer-guitarists mastering the rarest of concert feats: Smither is a band unto himself. Smither works alone — just his voice and his six-string acoustic — but still swings more than most full combos. His ceaseless foot-tapping underscoring subtle but forceful picking, while a deep, careworn voice animates such thoughtful ruminations on life's Big Questions.

ell, tonight he did that and more. He packed the house and wowed the crowd all the way through to his spectacularly exuberant ending when he broke up the furniture and fell from the stage — a clever way to avoid a demanded third encore. It was a rollicking evening all around ... worthy of a repeat performance (perhaps in a less risky month when it's less likely to snow). It is great to see a spectacular performer like Chris in an intimate venue where you are close up and can hear and see every nuance of his personality and his well constructed performance.

mither continues to give ample proof that he's matured into one of roots music's most passionate, soulful songsmiths and interpreters. He has the perfect husky, country-music voice, and he keeps the tunes clipping with crisp acoustic picking.

hrough the decades, Chris has taken the blues in a direction entirely his own: stoic existential ruminations sung in a pained, weathered moan and set to quietly virtuosic guitar. He ponders the nature of love, freedom and reality itself. Meanwhile his fingers fly, picking out bouncing bass lines and high, pristine melodies as his foot taps the beat. There was always unpretentious philosophy in the deep blues, and Smither has followed it toward his own quiet epiphanies.

is penchant for lyricism sometimes makes it easy to overlook his Delta-inspired guitar chops, which boast a strong rhythmic sense and a beautiful, fluid, fingerpicking style

o one should ever miss any rare opportunity to see this superb performer at the peak of his career when he visits a small venue stage.

thers have praised him with:

  • "Smither is an American original, a product of the musical melting pot, and one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world."
      — Associated Press

  • "Bathed in the flickering glow of passing headlights and neon bar signs, Smither's roots are as blue as they come. There is plenty of misty Louisiana and Lightnin' Hopkins in Smither's weathered singing and unhurried picking. So fine."
      — Rolling Stone

  • "A megawatt solo performer. Smither's songwriting and intricate guitar blues are tangible signs of the singer-songwriter's vigorous genius. "
      — WIRED

  • Link to Chris' web site         Listen to music clips from recent cds:        

    Opening for Chris tonight were our featured open mike performers:

  • Ira Perlman
  • Mike Kornfeld
  • Howard Emerson
  • Jim Caputo
  • Gary Schoenberger
  • Ed Wernersbach
  • Brian Sendrowitz
  • Kevin O'Donnell
  • John Bechhoff
  • Kenny Baum
  • Our host this evening was Ira Perlman. If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...