Singing The Anthem

Windy City Thunderbolts Game

Add text

Chris Smither: Keeping Acoustic Blues Alive 

I don’t have the slightest idea what drew me to Chris Smither or what caused me to give him a listen, but it was a wise choice. There just aren’t many people who do what he does, and that’s refreshing. So what does he do? He’s a finger style guitarist, (think Mississippi John Hurt or Lightnin’ Hopkins), and that’s worth listening to, but he also is a brilliant songwriter, and interpreter. 

Bonnie Raitt recorded Smither’s “Love Me Like A Man” which has become one of her better known songs. He almost exclusively plays solo, accompanied by his own guitar and a “foot box” that serves that keeps the beat. 

While other blues guitarist wonder too far into the land of the endless electric guitar solo, Smither’s playing serves to complement each song. Yet his playing is melodic and never self indulgent. There is no better example of his interpretive skills as his cover of Roly Sally’s “Killing The Blues.” Artists has covered the song multiple times, including John Prine, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and others. Smither’s version is superior, taken at a meditative tempo and a vocal that captures the melancholy lyrics. It’s a masterwork. 

He has recorded for several labels and now that musicians have returned to touring; he is back on the road. Chris Smither has been recording and touring for over fifty years and in the process has written several songs that are brilliant examples of his unique qriting and playing style. Check out “Up On The Lowdown,” and “leave the Light On” among others. 

Smither is worth discovering and a reminder that ofttimes the best music is rarely found on the airwaves but the clubs and small venues across the country.

Chris Smither - Keeping Acoustic Blues Alive 


 I don’t have the slightest idea what drew me to Chris Smither or what caused me to give him a listen, but it was a wise choice. There just aren’t many people who do what he does, and that’s refreshing. So what does he do? He’s a finger style guitarist, (think Mississippi John Hurt or Lightnin’ Hopkins), and that’s worth listening to, but he also is a brilliant songwriter, and interpreter.

Bonnie Raitt recorded Smither’s “Love Me Like A Man” which has become one of her better known songs. He almost exclusively plays solo, accompanied by his own guitar and a “foot box” that serves that keeps the beat.

While other blues guitarist wonder too far into the land of the endless electric guitar solo, Smither’s playing serves to complement each song. Yet his playing is melodic and never self indulgent. There is no better example of his interpretive skills as his cover of Roly Sally’s “Killing The Blues.” Artists has covered the song multiple times, including John Prine, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and others. Smither’s version is superior, taken at a meditative tempo and a vocal that captures the melancholy lyrics. It’s a masterwork.

He has recorded for several labels and now that musicians have returned to touring; he is back on the road. Chris Smither has been recording and touring for over fifty years and in the process has written several songs that are brilliant examples of his unique qriting and playing style. Check out “Up On The Lowdown,” and “leave the Light On” among others.

Smither is worth discovering and a reminder that ofttimes the best music is rarely found on the airwaves but the clubs and small venues across the country.



 

Americana: Music That Matters 

I admit it. I forgot about Michael McDermott. Since tending bar in the early 90s allowed me the luxury of playing whatever I wanted on the house stereo system, I kept McDermott’s debut release 620 Weed Street in heavy rotation. It was great to see a local artist sign a major label deal and receive airplay on WXRT. He soon appeared on MTV which played the video for his first single "A Wall I Must Climb.” 

He earned his stripes in the Irish taverns and pubs in the Chicago area while he began writing songs. Influenced by local legend the late John Prine, among others he soon hit the big time and signed with Giant records. 

Soon the ridiculous comparisons followed, the “new Springsteen” among others, as expectations exceeded reality. Subsequent releases, though critically hailed, failed to live up to the hype, and years of well-documented substance abuse dominated his once promising career. But despite personal issues, the music never stopped as the major label releases morphed into independent releases. 

But rarely has a performer made such an impressive return to form. McDermott has been sober since 2014 and has released several stellar recordings in the last five years. He moved back to the south suburbs with wife Heather and his artistic rebirth has not gone unnoticed. The career upturn began with 2016’s Willow Springs, which reached #1 on the European Americana chart. Showered with critical accolades, the prolific songwriter released the follow up, Out From Under in 2018. Less than a year later Orphans was released, consisting of songs left off Willow Springs and Out From Under and older recordings. In June 2020, McDermott continued his run of great recordings with What in the World. 

Since it appears live music venues are booking again, take the opportunity to see McDermott live. You won’t forget him.

Michael McDermott - "Willow Springs" (EXPLICIT) 

                 
                

I admit it. I forgot about Michael McDermott. Since tending bar in the early 90s allowed me the luxury of playing whatever I wanted on the house stereo system, I kept McDermott’s debut release 620 Weed Street in heavy rotation. It was great to see a local artist sign a major label deal and receive airplay on WXRT. He soon appeared on MTV which played the video for his first single "A Wall I Must Climb.”

He earned his stripes in the Irish taverns and pubs in the Chicago area while he began writing songs. Influenced by local legend the late John Prine, among others he soon hit the big time and signed with Giant records.

Soon the ridiculous comparisons followed, the “new Springsteen” among others, as expectations exceeded reality. Subsequent releases, though critically hailed, failed to live up to the hype, and years of well-documented substance abuse dominated his once promising career. But despite personal issues, the music never stopped as the major label releases morphed into independent releases.

But rarely has a performer made such an impressive return to form. McDermott has been sober since 2014 and has released several stellar recordings in the last five years. He moved back to the south suburbs with wife Heather and his artistic rebirth has not gone unnoticed. The career upturn began with 2016’s Willow Springs, which reached #1 on the European Americana chart. Showered with critical accolades, the prolific songwriter released the follow up, Out From Under in 2018. Less than a year later Orphans was released, consisting of songs left off Willow Springs and Out From Under and older recordings. In June 2020, McDermott continued his run of great recordings with What in the World.

Since it appears live music venues are booking again, take the opportunity to see McDermott live. You won’t forget him.


CLASSIC ROCK- COUNTRY- IRISH FOLK -OLDIES

Join our email list for the latest news


"..stirring renditions."
Chicago Tribune

Thanks for visiting the website of Joe Monahan, one of Chicagoland's most versatile acoustic entertainers. A native Chicagoan, Joe has played in and around Chicago for over fifteen years. He has a wide ranging repertoire from Irish ballads to popular Rock/Pop and Country & Western hits.


TO  CONTACT JOE MONAHAN:
jktm444@gmail.com

708-334-3340