Chris Smither

With a voice that’s combination whisper and gravel, and a fleet fingerpicking style, Florida native Chris Smither has been a local favorite since 1966, when his pal Eric von Schmidt convinced him to check out the then-burgeoning coffeehouse scene in Boston and Cambridge, getting regular work at such places as The Sword in the Stone and The Loft. This all occurred well after learning to play Burl Ives songs on a ukulele, then switching to guitar after discovering blues masters including Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and especially Lightnin’ Hopkins. Signed to Poppy Records, Smither, also a fan of the Everly Brothers, had dreams of becoming a pop star, but managed to make a comfortable living staying on the folk-blues route. Though he’s never been afraid to cover a well known song – he does a great “Statesboro Blues” – Smither has written and recorded plenty of original material. “It all starts with a groove and a guitar lick, and that moves into a progression,” he says of his writing process. “Then I sort of start getting a melody against it with nonsense lyrics, and eventually some kind of line comes out and I’ll look at it and say what it’s all about.”
(by Ed Symkus)

Published on December 28, 2012