Not unlike most musicians, Chris Smither discovered his pass for music as a young child. Armed with his mother’s ukulele, Smither learned that if he could master three chords, he would be able to play most of the songs on the radio but if he could learn four then he “could pretty much rule the world”.
“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,” says Smither.
Armed with his new super power, Smither left his home in New Orleans and made his way to Boston in his early 20s. With the mid-60s as a backdrop, Smither rode the acoustic music wave and honed his sound in the surrounding streets and coffeehouses. What resulted was an enduring beat-driven finger-picking style infused with a shot of the delta blues.
Smither recorded his first album—I’m A Stranger Too! —in 1971 and quickly followed it up with a sophomore album in 1972. After his label was absorbed by United Artists Smither found himself back on the streets until he found a home with Adelphi Records in 1985. That year he fittingly released his fourth album ‘It Ain’t Easy’.
By the early 90s Smither had reestablished his footing as a national touring act and he’s never looked back.
“I sort of look at my bank account and decide if it’s time to make a new record,” jokes Smither.
With 18 albums to his name as well as collaborations with musical legends Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris, Smither has cemented his place as one of America’s best singer-songwriters.
“I think there have been some consistent themes in my music throughout the years—you know, I’m always trying to answer the eternal questions about love, life, death and dislike,” says Smither with a laugh. “I can’t say I’ve found any of the answers though!”
Smither will be returning to Alaska for his 10th time this weekend for shows in Palmer and Anchorage. He will be performing songs from his latest album “Call Me Lucky” as well as some of his other hits.
“I love coming up to Alaska! I usually try to come in the winter because that’s when people feel like staying and listening to music but man, the summers are gorgeous,” says Smither.