Chris Smither @ Philly Folk Fest - 4 Decades
- Bob Rose Special Correspondent for Tri State Indie
Since his first festival performance in 1969 Chris has performed at least ten different times.There may have been changes during the past 40+ years but one most important PFF ingredient has remained intact, the countless hours put in my by the tremendous team of volunteers and management along with a appreciative and enthusiastic audience.
The one big difference for Chris Smither this time around, was that in the past he spent three days performing at various workshops in addition to his main stage performance and the chance to meet many different artists, This visit was much more brief, one stage and one show. Commenting on this years PFF, Smither said, “The festival has changed through the years and is so much more professional, but those involved never lost their love for the fest and the grassroots feeling of everyone sharing continues today. I am grateful how well run the festival is and one big change over the years I noticed was the new main stage and an excellent sound system”, added Smither.
Smither grew up in New Orleans but said, “I wasn’t aware of the influences on my career to after I Ieft, but I recalled the the rhythms I heard throughout the city. Many of the successful musicians who came from New Orleans play piano or horn and when he started to play the guitar, many people asked me what I was going to do for a career he said with a chuckle”, Chris added, “I love the culture and attitude of New Orleans and it effected me my entire life”.
During this career which started in 1967 Smither has released 13 albums and during his 9 song set at the Philadelphia Folk Festival he played songs from seven different albums released at various times ( 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2006 and his latest 2009, Time Stand Still). He was joined on the festival stage by his band, The Motovators, which included: multi-instrumentalist Davd “Goody” Goodrich and Jason Smith who set in for drums during his first road tour and who was thrilled by the experience. The band was a great added addition providing strong accompaniment to someone who has made a career as a solo guitarist singer songwriter steeped in the blues and the influences of Mississippi John Hurt, Lightin’ Hopikins and Robert Johnson.
Smither‘s career has also been made more comfortable since many of his songs have been covered by other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, and Diane Krall. “These artists in my early days opened some doors and also gave me some credibility”, said Smither. He further commented,”I find it so rewarding when one of the songs I had written has been recorded by another artist it is a huge compliment and then the song seems to take on a life of its own”.
For those of you who heard his performance, here is the set list which I am so fortunate that Chris took the time to write it down for me so I could share it with our Tri State Indie readers.
Open Up from Leave the Lights On, 2006
Link O’ Chain from Up on the Lowdown, 1995
Train Home from Train Home, 2003
Time Stands Still from Time Stands Still, 2009
Don’t Call Me Stranger from Time Stands Still, 2009
Drive Me Home from from Drive You Home Again, 1999
Crocodile Man from Train Home, 2003 and written by Dave Grammar
Leave The Light on from Leave the Lights On, 2006
Hold On from Small Revalations, 1997
Chris Smither is a solo artist who has performed for four decades and on special occasions performs with a band. In his own words to summarize his career, Smither said, “It’s not done yet. I feel I’m singing and playing better now and know I made the right decision to to do what I enjoy” Chris Smither your fans around the world are also happy you followed your dream and have done what you enjoy and we agree with your personal assessment. - Bob Rose
- Chris Smither Pictured Above, Photo by Bob Rose