So great and vast was the singer-songwriter revolution of the 1960s that we take for granted the long, steadily productive careers of many of its practitioners. That is the case with Chris Smither, who has put out 16 studio-recorded albums since 1970’s I’m a Stranger Too!
His rough-hewn voice has the rugged authenticity of moss on a forest’s rocks, his acoustic guitar work is unassumingly virtuosic and his songwriting can by turns be evocative of world-weary elderly bluesmen, Greenwich Village folkies chronicling their fast-changing times or Modernist composers grappling with the moving targets of love and happiness in today’s complex society.
He’s spent almost 50 years writing songs and he’s masterful as it. And right now he’s having a moment. Not just his devoted fan base but also the popular culture at large is acknowledging his contributions.
His new album, the two-disc, New Orleans-recorded Still on the Levee, observes his 50th anniversary as a songwriter with newly recorded versions of such material as “Devil Got Your Man,” “Love You Like a Man,” “Leave the Light On,” “Don’t It Drag On” and “Slow Surprise.”
Just one day before his Cincinnati appearance, a tribute album in his called Link of Chain will be issued. It features tracks by Dave Alvin, Loudon Wainwright, Bonnie Raitt, Patty Larkin, Mary Gauthier, Paul Cebar, Eilen Jewell, Jorma Kaukonen, Peter Case and more.
It’s a good time to be — and see — Chris Smither.
CHRIS SMITHER performs Wednesday, Sept. 17 at Oakley's 20th Century Theater. Find tickets/more info here .