Mr. Smither Tell Us a Blues Bedtime Story by Monica Yasher

Posted on 6/19/2009 by Monica Yasher

Chris Smither has the gift of telling a story to anyone. Better yet, he has the gift of telling a story through song. Mr. Smither is a singer/songwriter in the genre of delta blues. In Greensburg, PA for the summer sounds concert last week the crowd was feeling anything but blue. The sky was perfect, the temperature just right, there was ice cream to be bought, and the outside venue had Mr. Smither’s vocals echoing through the park and down the streets. The crowd was waiting to hear their dose of bedtime stories performed through singing the blues. And, did Mr. Smither deliver!

Chris has an awesome toe to heel tapping thing going on-all night long-not a single song without it! Do you know how difficult it is to sing a song? Do you know how difficult it is to sing a song and play an instrument? Unless you have done these things, you can not fully appreciate what Chris is doing up there with the addition of tapping his foot. Mesmerizing! Now if only I could learn how to whistle and snap my fingers - uh separately.

Good songwriters write songs. Great songwriters write about life. I know this sounds as if it is an easy thing to do, it isn’t. It isn’t easy to give of yourself to people you don’t know. It takes great confidence to sit alone on a chair with a spotlight and share your life’s experiences. Chris shared songs about his family. Believe it or not, I am not the only singer songwriter under appreciated by their mother! And, it seems like all moms love the love songs their children write. He shared stories of his Dad, stories of his child (cute, cute), stories of religion and the world economic condition. He has placed himself in the blues history books with these songs. That is what the blues is about. Painting a vocal picture of the hardships of today and how life is lived. I know Chris felt that some of the songs are short lived performance wise. But, he has captured history for future generations. Thank you for letting the blues live on!

Mr. Smither has no way of knowing this. But, he has impacted my life by his songwriting. I was introduced to the blues a while back and didn’t really know any songs. Do you know what song the band told me to learn first? Uh huh. Love me Like a Man, which is a staple song at any Bonnie Raitt concert! This song is also a blues staple for female performers in the Pittsburgh Open Mic scene. And, I must have gotten pretty good at performing the song. The reaction I get is a bit, should I say, I won’t say. Anyway, I only sing it when hubby tags along. This song was the beginning of me lovin’ the blues! After hearing Chris sing his song, I really think I prefer the male version now. I already asked a friend to perform it! If you haven’t heard the male version, go take a listen. It truly weaves a different perspective.

Chris asked the crowd how many sets he was to do. Never give a mouse a cookie…the crowd wanted 3 sets to his 2. Chris performed 2 sets finishing up with an encore performance where he gave tribute to the late great Koko Taylor. I have a friend here in the ‘burgh who performs with Commander Cody who saw her perform for the last time in Chicago. He even remembers noting how she didn’t appear to be feeling well that night. And, as any blues (wo)man would do, it didn’t matter how you feel, you sang the blues. She sang Wang Dang Doodle. Thank you Koko!

Chris Smither was a man dressed in black. But, his songs truly paint the color of life. He has a relaxing quality to his voice especially with the soothing low notes he reaches. I am excited for Mr. Smither to have a new release coming out in September. We will meet up with him again in August to see what else he has to say about the world through the blues.

Thanks for sharing your life, Chris.

Copyright © 2009 Copyright Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph Copyright © 2009 Maureen Ceidro. All Rights Reserved.

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

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