Smither leaves light on for himself this time

  • By Sharon Wootton Special to The Herald
  • Thursday, January 24, 2008 11:53am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Folk-blues singer Chris Smither arrives on his “Leave the Light On” tour Wednesday in Seattle, packing a new concert DVD, “One More Night.” His career, he said, has been one of refining his skills and stories, looking for truth and avoiding self-deception.

Playing his bluesy finger-picked acoustic guitar and singing in a gravel-and-molasses voice, Smither also incorporates other songwriters’ work, including Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Blues in the Bottle.”

Emmylou Harris recorded his “Slow Surprise” for “The Horse Whisperer” soundtrack, a song that also was used in the independent feature “Brother’s Shadow.” He provided all the music for the film “The Ride” and his music was commissioned for a feature documentary, “Outsider Artists.”

Smither’s songs also have been covered by Diana Krall, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall and Rosalie Sorrels.

Campbell Brothers: The gospel-driven steel-guitar band includes three brothers, one brother’s son and a couple of friends. Real Blues magazine called pedal-steel guitarist and National Heritage Fellowship recipient Chuck Campbell “the Jimi Hendrix and the Django Reinhardt of the steel guitar.”

The award-winning band presents music from “Sacred Steel,” African-American gospel music that includes a high-energy rhythm section. It’s a rich variety of material from the African-American Holiness-Pentecostal line — with a twist.

Howlin Rain: Featured as one of the eight “bands to watch” for 2008 by MOJO magazine, the band is a spin-off project of Comets on Fire co-founder and frontman Ethan Miller. Its new CD, “Magnificent Fiend,” is due in March. Howlin Rain taps into the psychedelic brotherhood for its spin on a free-form folksy sound. The band will perform with psych-rockers Black Mountain, as well as Yeasayer and MGMT.

Ryan Adams: The alt-country-rock singer began writing short stories and poetry at age 8 and dropped out of school in the 10th grade to become a professional musician. He’s also produced an album by Willie Nelson and contributed to others. Adams made his solo debut in 2000, and his 2001 “Gold” earned two Grammy nominations. Last fall, he posted on his Web site that he had suffered significant hearing loss, which he called “a huge challenge.”

The Decemberists: The five-piece band is led by Colin Meloy, who has a degree in creative writing that shows its influence in his storytelling and music, from the theatrical indie pop of “Her Majesty” to the EP “The Tain,” based on an 8th-century Irish Poem. Capitol Records signed the group and they released “The Crane Wife,” which in 2006 hit the 35th spot on the Billboard 200.

Out and about: A blend of original songs and instrumentals, old-time heritage and bluegrass power is the gift of John Reischman and the Jaybirds (Saturday, Phinney Neighborhood Center, Seattle). … J&J Music and Broken Time Records Showcase (Thursday, Jazz Alley) presents a solo set by pianist Eric Vaughn and a second set with the Michael Owcharuk Sextet. … Tim Finn (Tuesday, Triple Door), winner of the New Zealand Music Awards’ best male solo artist award, brings music from his seventh solo release, “Imaginary Kingdom.” …

Blue Öyster Cult (Saturday, Emerald Queen), best known for “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Burnin’ for You” and “Godzilla,” is a rock band and also a pioneer in heavy metal. … History buff and film noir fan Barton Carroll’s (Saturday, Sunset Tavern) singer-songwriter lyrics carry dramatic weight. His music is a mix of mountain songs and sad but sweet melodies.

Acoustic music reigns at The Triple Door next week. Although Howard Jones (Monday) is considered a godfather of electronic music, the classically trained pianist is on an acoustic tour this time. … Alt-pop rockers Nada Surf (Wednesday) have a new album out next month (“Lucky”) filled with love, longing and restlessness. … The Triple Door’s Seattle Secret Music Showcase No. 6 (Thursday) features Tingstad &Rumbel, Gina Sala and Valerie Rosa with Ricardo and Garey Shelton, and Marcus Petitt. The event is a fundraiser for two organizations working to heal the wounds of war.

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Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

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