Chris Smither will be performing a special concert next month live at Club Passim to celebrate the release of his latest album, More From the Levee. Smither will play an acoustic set live in an empty Club Passim, a music venue that hosted his very first gig when he arrived in Cambridge in his early twenties. The performance will be streamed on Passim.org as well as Passim’s Facebook and YouTube pages, Saturday, October 3 at 8:00PM. The stream is free, but viewers are asked to make a contribution to Club Passim.

We interviewed Smither at the 2018 Newport Folk Festival, an event he first played in the 1960’s. He shared a memorable moment.

“The first time I played was 1967. There’s a picture of me at my first Newport Festival on a workshop stage and Taj Mahal, a very young and skinny Taj Mahal, is sitting on the end of the stage watching. It’s in a book written by Jim Rooney and Eric von Schmidt about the Cambridge folk scene. I remember being there in ‘68 or ‘69 in the audience watching Arlo Guthrie play “Alice’s Restaurant” for the first time at the Festival.”

Smither is excited about his latest release. More from the press release:

“Since my last in-person concert in February I, like every other musician, have been trying to be creative connecting with fans, doing live streams from home and most recently a couple of very socially distanced outdoor events,” said Smither. “In talking with Matt Smith of Passim, we came up with the idea of a livestream from the Passim stage itself as a benefit for the club and also a way to celebrate my new record, More From the Levee, that comes out October 2 on Signature Sounds.

“Chris Smither is one of the most beloved folk and blues artists of the last 50 years,” said Matt Smith, Managing Director of Club Passim. “His style is immediately recognizable, both as a guitar player and a lyricist. He has inspired and influenced generations who have come through Club Passim.”

“I’m really looking forward to playing the livestream concert from the Passim stage, nice for the fans to see a livestream from a venue for a change,” added Smither. “I’ve got a long relationship with the club starting back when it was first known as Club 47 so there’s a sentimental attachment. It was my first gig when I came to Cambridge….thanks to Eric von Schmidt.”

More From the Levee, Smither’s 18th album, continues the milieu of his 50-year retrospective Still on the Levee (2014). Reconnecting with his roots, Smither recorded the latter, a double album, in New Orleans at the fabled Music Shed. What resulted were 24 fresh takes on his songs with help from some very special guests including the legendary Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III. With his fingers as supple as his voice, Smither effortlessly delivered the other half of his signature sound on Still on the Levee: the back-porch feel of intricate acoustic blues picking accompanied by his own boot-heel-on-wood rhythms.

Two weeks with longtime right-hand-man and producer David Goodrich at the helm of the sessions resulted in an over-abundance of songs in the can. More From the Levee contains ten of these extra gems including fan favorites “Drive You Home Again,” “Caveman,” and a brand-new Smither original titled “What I Do.”

Chris Smither at Newport Folk 2018 (Photo: Ken Abrams)

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music for What'sUpNewp, SO RI, Folk Radio UK and more. He's also a DJ Tuesday night 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.