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Have Particle Board, Guitar, Will Traves

Have Particle Board, Guitar, Will Traves

Who: Chris Smither
Where: Gallipoli Legion Club
When: Wednesday March 17, 2004

US blues-folk songwriter and guitarist CHRIS SMITHER will perform at the GALLIPOLI LEGION CLUB next week during the Newcastle leg of his Australian tour.

Smither will be armed with a new collection of songs taken from his latest album Train Home , his guitar and the trusty piece of velcro-backed particle board that has followed him around the globe.

``I realised years ago that when I played on carpeted stages the performance suffered,'' Smither said.

lw-6 ``I thought maybe I hadn't played that well on those occasions but my manager pointed out that if my foot stomping the rhythm couldn't be heard, a lot of the drive was lost. ``So now I have a mike on my foot and a piece of particle board in my suitcase and it all works fine'' Smither's love of music began as a child when he picked up his mother's ukulele.

The instrument had been locked away in the attic for so long his mother had forgotten how to play but an uncle showed him the ropes.

By the time he reached his teens, Smither was a fully fledged rock'n'roll fan until a friend played him a LIGHTIN' HOPKINS album.

``I thought it was three guys playing. It was blues, but to me it sounded like rock 'n' roll, so here was an opportunity for me to play rock 'n' roll by myself without a band.'' ``I was a social misfit until I was into my twenties so that was a godsend.'' Over time, Smither has established himself as an innovative artist. Smither's love of languages , namely French and Spanish, is reflected in his work.

``I'm in love with language and most of the conscious work I do on my songs is on the lyrics,'' he said.

``I have basic rules; lyrics should sound conversational, never stilted or forced into a metre, and I never sit down to write a song about something.

``I just noodle around with the guitar and when the right harmonic progressions come together I start singing just nonsense words.

``The music drives the lyric and eventually phrases start to pop up.'' I never really know what a song's going to be about until it's nearly finished - it's a very organic process.'' Audiences aren't the only ones who respond positively to Smither's tunes and lyrics.

Extracts have been used in MOSHE BENARROCH's book Keys to Tetuan and in the films The Horse Whisperer and The Ride.

Catch Smither at the Gallipoli Legion Club on March 17, with tickets at the door.

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