Music

Chris Smither.

Smither sings

By Julian Wise - June 1, 2006

The term "Legendary" is not one to be bandied about lightly, yet Chris Smither consistently earns this accolade from both his musical peers and the musical press. The New Orleans product made his mark on the Cambridge folk/blues movement of the late 60s and early 70s alongside peers Geoff Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric von Schmidt.

Smither's songs have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, and Emmylou Harris and his nonstop touring schedule has kept him on the cultural radar screen long after some of his former peers have faded into obscurity.

Smither has recently signed with the Massachusetts record label Signature Sounds and on September 19 will unveil "Leave The Light On," his 12th album since 1970.

Smither's biography reads like a vintage troubadour's journey. He was born in Miami in 1944, three minutes before his twin Mary Catherine entered the world. After stints in Ecuador and Texas, Mr. Smither's family settled in New Orleans when Mr. Smither was 3. Exposure to blues legends Lightin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt effectively derailed his academic focus and by the mid-60s he'd dropped out of college and headed north to the New York/ Boston coffee house scene. In 1970 he released his first album, "I'm a Stranger," setting off a decades-long career as a singer/songwriter.

His witty, profound lyrics inspired the Boston Phoenix to declare, "Like those of Tom Waits, Smither's throwaway lines are sometimes better than the prose most songwriters pore over."

Opening act Chris Brokaw is a self-professed fan who has been influenced by Smither's body of work. In his own right, Mr. Brokaw is a respected figure in the world of alternative rock. He's recently returned from a European stint with his own outfit, The Chris Brokaw Rock Band. After an early-summer tour as the drummer for The New Year, Mr. Brokaw will reassemble his band on July 21 at the Festival Internacional de Benicassim in Benicassim, Spain, with Echo and the Bunnymen, The Pixies, and the Stokes.

Chris Smither with special guest Chris Brokaw, Friday, June 2, Outerland, Airport Road, Edgartown. Tickets $25 and $20.