Richard Smith's guitar journey
Nashville’s Richard Smith is the kind of solo guitar player who leaves listeners amazed and fellow guitarists slack-jawed and befuddled. He has the ability to coax fiendishly difficult arrangements out of his nylon-string instrument with deceptive ease and impeccable musicality, a rare combination that can be heard in person when Smith plays at White Horse Black Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 19.
It’s a long way from suburban London to Nashville, but the course was set when the young Richard heard his father’s recordings of Chet Atkins’ and Merle Travis whose complex guitar arrangements combined bass lines, chords an melody. Smith was soon working out intricate finger-style solos on his own. By the tender age of 11, he was accomplished enough to be invited onstage by his hero, Atkins himself.
While he’s rooted in the stylings of Travis, Jerry Reed and The Country Gentleman, Smith has expanded his repertoire to include classical pieces, Beatles tunes, Gypsy jazz, Telecaster twang, bluegrass, bebop and more. Whatever the genre, Smith distinguishes himself by his technical mastery and unerring musical taste.
Smith is married to American cellist and frequent performing partner Julie Adams. He tours constantly in the U.S. and Europe as a soloist, with Adams and with gypsy jazz outfit The Hot Club of Nashville. With 10 CDs under his own name, he also spends time in his Tunesmith Studio recording and producing other artists.
Smith has earned a local following as a teacher and performer at the Swannanoa Gathering, where his eclecticism, easy humor and musicianship have been a highlight of past Guitar Weeks.
Who: Richard Smith
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 19
Where: White Horse Black Mountain
Cost: $15 advance, $18 door