Focal Point proudly welcomes our old friend Chris Smither back for TWO back to back shows on Saturday, October 14th at 4pm and 8pm.
“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.
“[Smither] taps his foot to keep the rhythm, much like the late blues legend John Lee Hooker. His finger-picked guitar lines are sleek, unhurried and insistent. And then there’s the voice – equal parts gravel and molasses.” -National Public Radio.
“With a weary, well-traveled voice and a serenely intricate finger-picking style, Mr. Smither turns the blues into songs that accept hard-won lessons and try to make peace with fate”. – The New York Times
The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.” With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. “I’d loved acoustic music – specifically the blues – ever since I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues In My Bottle album. I couldn’t believe the sound Hopkins got. At first I thought it was two guys playing guitar. My style, to a degree, came out of trying to imitate that sound I heard.”
In his early twenties, Smither turned his back on his anthropology studies and headed to Boston at the urging of legendary folk singer Eric von Schmidt. It was the mid-’60s and acoustic music thrived in the streets and coffeehouses there. Smither forged lifelong friendships with many musicians, including Bonnie Raitt who went on to record his songs, “Love You Like A Man” and “I Feel the Same. (Their friendship has endured as their career paths intertwined over the years.) What quickly evolved from his New Orleans and Cambridge musical experiences is his enduring, singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, strongly influenced by the playing of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, layered over the ever-present backbeat of his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance).
More From The Levee is the 18th album from the iconic bluesman Deemed “one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world” (Associated Press), the album is a brilliant continuation of Smither’s 50-year retrospective album, Still On The Levee(2014). Reconnecting with his roots, Smither recorded the career-spanning double-album in New Orleans at the fabled Music Shed. What resulted were 24 fresh reimagined takes from Smither’s vast career with help from some very special guests including the legendary Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III. With his fingers as supple as his voice, Smither effortlessly delivered the other half of his signature sound on Still on the Levee: the back-porch feel of intricate acoustic blues picking accompanied by his own boot-heel-on-wood rhythms.