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Welcome back Chris Smither to the Bull Run

The singer-guitarist brings a solo concert of old and new songs to Shirley Jan. 15.

Carol Young
Chris Smither performs a Topeka.Live show from his home in Amherst.

Chris Smither was born in Miami, grew up in New Orleans, and now lives in Amherst. But he got his singer-songwriter-guitarist-bluesman career on track when he became part of the Boston-Cambridge folk music scene in the mid-1960s.

His return to the Bull Run Restaurant on Jan. 15 will consist of a man and his (Collings acoustic) guitar selecting and performing songs from the 18 albums he’s made over the past 50 years and, who knows … maybe even a cover song or two and some new originals, as he’s always liked to try out fresh material from the stage before heading into the studio.

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Smither’s first instrument was his mom’s old ukulele, which he found in the attic when he was about 9. Lessons from his uncle turned him into a proficient player, but when his dad gave him a guitar for his 12th birthday, he was off and running in a new direction, eventually developing an intricate, rhythmic, melodic fingerpicking style that likely stemmed from his constant listening to bluesmen Skip James, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Mississippi John Hurt. Add to that his ever-tapping foot (sometimes both feet) and the rich singing voice that has become pleasingly dusky over the years.

Audiences should look forward to Smither’s haunting “Caveman” or his wry, thoughtful, autobiographical song “What I Do.” But it’s always a kick to hear him revisit his musical roots with a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom,” or pay a bit of homage to Jerry Garcia on “Friend of the Devil.” If he’s in the right mood, the set list could even include his mournful, lilting take on John Lennon’s “She Said She Said.”

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