Most of the black bluesmen that were "discovered" in the 1940s and '50s have passed on. There are exceptions, from the poverty stricken to the highly successful. The mostly white figures of the folk boom of the '60s who followed them are now hitting or living their sixties. Just the way that many of us took special notice of the work of these black bluesmen in their later years, there are many figures of the '60s folk movement to whom we should be paying particular attention, since one day in the foreseeable future their special voices will not be heard.

Chris Smither is unquestionably one of the most distinguished statesman of the blues and of folk music. Unlike contemporaries such as Jackson Browne or Bonnie Raitt, he did not go the big band pop music route. He is a quintessential solo act, just fingerstyle guitar and a board under his rocking foot, sometimes a harmonica, and a road-honed baritone to deliver his lifetime of songs.

As a songwriter, he came to national recognition when Bonnie Raitt cut "Love You Like A Man" which has since been cut by other great female singers, the recent notable being Diana Krall, who certainly doesn't need to look far for great songs to cover. Chris cut two well-received CDs in 1970 and '72, and then lived the blues in a bottle story for about a decade, climbed back out and has since made ten records, and we think his best work is still ahead of him. But Leave The Light On is his finest to date, and his second with producer David "Goody" Goodrich, a longtime multi-instrumentalist/producer to Peter Mulvey and a growing list of artists.

Although Chris Smither seems progressively vital in recent records, he is one of the best of a vanishing breed, a picture of a time. If you don't yet own one of his CDs, this is a good place to hop this freight. One of the greatest American folk blues artists, ever.            continue to interview