[lang_fr]Chris Smither : Biographie[/lang_fr][lang_en]Chris Smither : Biography[/lang_en]

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Chris Smither (né le 11 novembre 1944 à Miami, Floride) est un auteur, guitariste, interprète américain de blues. Sa musique est très inspirée du blues, de la musique folk américaine, des poètes et philosophes modernes.

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Chris Smither (born November 11, 1944 in Miami, Florida) is an American folk/blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His music draws deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and philosophers.

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Discographie

1970 – I’m a Stranger, Too
1971 – Don’t It Drag On
1973 – Honeysuckle Dog
1984 – It Ain’t Easy
1991 – Another Way To Find You
1993 – Happier Blue
1995 – Up on the Lowdown
1997 – Small Revelations
1999 – Drive You Home Again
2000 – Live As I’ll Ever Be
2003 – Train Home
2006 – Leave the Light On

Enregistrements live et Compilations

Blues Live From Mountain Stage (« The Devil’s Real ») (1995)
Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt (« Frankie and Albert ») (2001)
Live At McCabe’s Guitar Shop (2004)
Raise the Roof – A Retrospective (« Winsome Smile ») (2004)
A Case for Case: A Tribute to the Songs of Peter Case (« Cold Trail Blues ») (2006)
Tales from the Tavern, Vol.1 (« Train Home ») (2006)
True Folk (« Step It Up and Go » avec Jorma Kaukonen) (2006)

Ecoutez Chris Smither sur 121 web Radio !

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Smither’s family lived in Ecuador and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas before settling in New Orleans when Chris was three years old. He grew up in New Orleans, and lived briefly in Paris where he and his twin sister attended French public school. It was in Paris that Smither got his first guitar – one his father brought him from Spain. Shortly after, the family returned to New Orleans where his father taught at Tulane University.

In 1960, Smither and two friends entered and won a folk “Battle of the Bands” at the New Orleans Saenger Theatre. Two years later, Smither graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans and went on to attend the University of the Americas in Mexico City planning to study anthropology. It was there that a friend played Smither the Lightnin’ Hopkins’ record “Blues in My Bottle”. After one year in Mexico, Smither returned to New Orleans where he attended Tulane for one year and discovered Mississippi John Hurt’s music through the Blues at Newport 1963 album on Vanguard Records. Hurt and Hopkins would become cornerstone influences on Smither’s own music.

In 1964, Smither flew to New York City two days prior to boarding the SS United States for the five-day transatlantic voyage to Paris for his Junior Year Abroad program. While in New York, he stopped at The Gaslight Cafe to see his hero, Mississippi John Hurt. Once in Paris, Smither often spent time playing his guitar instead of attending classes.

Smither returned to New Orleans in 1965. With a few clothes and his guitar, he soon took off for Florida to meet another musical hero, Eric von Schmidt. Smither arrived uninvited at von Schmidt’s door; Von Schmidt welcomed Smither in, and upon listening to him play, advised him to go north to seek a place in the burgeoning folk scene in New York City or Cambridge, Massachusetts. Smither followed this advice, and arrived at Club 47 in Harvard Square several weeks later only to find von Schmidt performing. Von Schmidt invited Smither on stage to play three songs.

Smither soon began writing and performing his own songs. He achieved some local notice and by 1967 was featured on the cover of Broadside Magazine, and in 1968 music photographer David Gahr’s book, The Face of Folk Music featured Smither’s picture.

By 1969, after living in several places around Cambridge, Smither moved to Garfield Street in Cambridge and often visited Dick Waterman’s house where Fred McDowell, Son House and other blues legends were known to congregate. It was there that Smither first performed his song “Love You Like A Man” for Waterman’s friend, Bonnie Raitt, who would record a cover version of the tune a few years later. That summer, he appeared at the Philadelphia Folk Festival for the first time.

In 1970, he released his first album I’m A Stranger, Too on Poppy Records, followed by Don’t It Drag On the next year. He recorded a followup, Honeysuckle Dog, in 1973 for United Artists Records but it was never released as around the same time the record label was purchased by Transamerica, which culled over half the UA roster of artists (including Smither) shortly before putting the label out of business altogether. Despite being dropped from the record label, Smither continued to tour, becoming a fixture in the New England folk clubs.

In 1972, a longstanding working relationship with Bonnie Raitt took shape as Raitt’s cover of « Love Me Like a Man » appeared on her second album Give It Up. Raitt has since made it a signature song of her live performances under the title, and the song has been included on several of her live albums. She has openly expressed admiration for Smither’s songwriting and guitar playing, once calling Smither “my Eric Clapton.” In 1973, she covered his song “I Feel The Same” on her Takin’ My Time album.

Following this mixed early success, Smither’s recording and songwriting career had a long fallow period while he struggled with personal issues. In his official biography, Smither is quoted: « I was basically drunk for 12 years, and somehow I managed to climb out of it; I don’t know why. »

Smither began to re-emerge as a performer in the late 1970s, and gained a few press notices. In 1979, Smither was featured in Eric von Schmidt and Jim Rooney’s book, ‘’Baby Let Me Follow You Down’’ (on pp 276-277), and the next year in the UK’s Melody Maker magazine.

In 1984, Smither’s belated third album, It Ain’t Easy was released on Adelphi Records.
Smither recorded his next album, Another Way To Find You, in front of a live audience at Soundtrack Studio in Boston and in 1991 released it on Flying Fish Records. Later that year he received a Boston Music Award. Two years later, he was invited to compose music for a documentary on Southern folk artists and met Southern folk artist Mose T.

In 1993, Smither recorded and released his fifth album, Happier Blue (Flying Fish), which earned Smither a National American Independent Record Distributors NAIRD award. Another two years later, he released Up On The Lowdown (Hightone Records), which was recorded at the Hit Shack in Austin, Texas. This was the first of three records produced by Stephen Bruton. Also that year, the Chris Smither Songbook I was published.

In 1996, Smither worked on the film The Ride, by John Flanders/Rough Pine Productions providing music and minor voiceovers. Also in 1986 he began recording live concerts in the US and Ireland for what would later become a live CD. The next year, he released his seventh album, Small Revelations (Hightone), and filmed an instructional guitar video for Happy Traum’s Homespun Tapes in Woodstock, NY.

1998 was a year of small breakthroughs and the start of a fertile songwriting and recording period for Smither. Hightone reissued Another Way To Find You and Happier Blue. Jorma Kaukonen invited Smither to teach at his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. In addition, Smither toured with Dave Alvin, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Tom Russell as Hightone’s « Monsters of Folk » tour, and Emmylou Harris recorded his song “Slow Surprise”, for the Horse Whisperer soundtrack CD.

In 1999, Smither released Drive You Home Again (Hightone), and 2000 brought the release of his another CD, “Live As I’ll Ever Be” (Hightone), comprised of the live recordings made two years earlier. His song “No Love Today” was featured in the Bravo network program « Tale Lights ». The following year, songwriter Peter Case invited Smither to be part of a Mississippi John Hurt tribute record for which he contributed the opening track, “Frankie and Albert”.

In 2003, Train Home Smither’s was released on Hightone. In 2004, the never-released Honeysuckle Dog (originally recorded in 1973) was licensed by Tomato Records. Also in 2004, jazz singer Diana Krall covered “Love Me Like A Man” on her CD, The Girl in the Other Room.

In 2006, Leave The Light On, Smither’s 12th CD, was released on Mighty Albert, a new imprint established for him on Signature Sounds Recordings. Guest musicians on the record included Grammy Award-winner Tim O’Brien and members of Ollabelle. That year, Smither also contributed an essay entitled “Become A Parent” to the book Sixty Things To Do When You Turn Sixty (Ronnie Sellers Productions). He also narrated a two-CD audio book recording of Will Rogers’ Greatest Hits (Logofon Recordings).

In 2007, Smither’s song “Open Up” is expected to appear on the soundtrack of the film You Kill Me, starring Ben Kingsley and Luke Wilson.

Smither continues to tour world-wide, performing at clubs, concert halls, and festivals in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia and beyond.

Discography

1970 – I’m a Stranger, Too
1971 – Don’t It Drag On
1973 – Honeysuckle Dog
1984 – It Ain’t Easy
1991 – Another Way To Find You
1993 – Happier Blue
1995 – Up on the Lowdown
1997 – Small Revelations
1999 – Drive You Home Again
2000 – Live As I’ll Ever Be
2003 – Train Home
2006 – Leave the Light On

Live Recordings and Compilations

Blues Live From Mountain Stage (Plays « The Devil’s Real ») (1995)
Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt (Plays « Frankie and Albert ») (2001)
Live At McCabe’s Guitar Shop (2004)
Raise the Roof – A Retrospective (Plays « Winsome Smile ») (2004)
A Case for Case: A Tribute to the Songs of Peter Case (Plays « Cold Trail Blues ») (2006)
Tales from the Tavern, Vol.1 (Plays « Train Home ») (2006)
True Folk (Plays « Step It Up and Go » with Jorma Kaukonen) (2006)

Listen to Chris Smither on 121 Web Radio !

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About the Author