Blues-folk singer-songwriter Chris Smither returns to Hudson, to perform his impassioned blend of original and classic blues-influenced American roots music. Laurie Sargent, lead singer of the 1980s Boston-based rock band Face to Face, warms up the crowd for Smither.
Having distilled his own signature sound of blues and folk for over 50 years, Smither is truly an American original. A profound songwriter and virtuoso guitarist, Smither continues to draw deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and philosophers. From his early days as the New Orleans transplant on the Boston folk scene, through his wilderness years, to his reemergence in the 1990s as one of America’s most distinctive acoustic performers, Smither continues to hone his distinctive sound. His voice, in particular, is the very embodiment of the folk-blues sound.
On his most recent album, “Call Me Lucky,” Smither remakes one of the most familiar rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time in his own image, perfectly encapsulating his approach. You’d be hard put to realize he is singing Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene,” so deep and dark he digs into it, uncovering depths of desperation that were hidden inside the song from day one.
As an indication of the reverence his peers accord to him, the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Patty Larkin, Josh Ritter, Peter Case, Tim O’Brien and others contributed tracks to “Link of Chain,” an all-star tribute album celebrating Chris Smither’s auspicious body of work. Additionally, famed New Orleans pianist/songwriter Allen Toussaint, members of the band Morphine, and fellow folk-Americana artists Loudon Wainwright, Kris Delmhorst and Rusty Belle added their touches to Smither’s most recent album, “Still on the Levee,” a two-CD retrospective recorded in New Orleans, revisiting Smither’s musical history as well as adding to it with new compositions.
Smither has long been revered for both his guitar prowess and his way with a lyric, inspiring artists from Bonnie Raitt and John Mayall to Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall. He toured as one of the original Monsters of Folk with Dave Alvin, Tom Russell and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott in 1998, and continues to live up to the title with accolades such as Mojo magazine’s five-star review for his 2012 release, “Hundred Dollar Valentine”; his April 2014 appearances at the revered New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival earned him a spot on Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke’s Personal Top 10 list of best festival performances.
Smither credits Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins as the two bluesmen who most influenced him, and when he performs, their spirit is always in the room, but what comes out is pure Chris Smither.
Laurie Sargent was lead singer of 1980s Boston rock quintet Face to Face, which was founded by guitarist Stuart Kimball, who went on to become a longstanding member of Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour band. Sargent has since juggled her career as a solo artist; a member of Twinemen, featuring musicians from Morphine; and a farmer in Montana.