Chris Smither, the towering figure in American acoustic blues, knows what he’s doing. He burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the late 1960’s with a unique finger-picking style and a ragged world-weary voice. And then he just kept going. Along the way he amassed major fans, folks like the late founder of Little Feat, Lowell George, and Townes Van Zandt, who, amongst other things, always credited Smither with saving his life in a Florida swimming pool one hazy night, and Bonnie Raitt, whose recording of Smither’s “Love You Like A Man” entered the pantheon of stone-cold classics any number of years ago. Now, with eighteen albums under his belt and one of the most stellar reputations a living guitar god could hope to have, Smither returns to Vermont this September for the third Ray Massucco Concert Series show on Saturday, September 23, at the Bellows Falls Opera House.
Opening the show is Windham County’s favorite son, Matt Lorenz, aka The Suitcase Junket. “It is super exciting to see these two on the same bill,” enthuses Ezra Veitch of Ray’s the Roof Productions, organizers of the series. “Both Suitcase and Smither deconstruct the blues, rearrange it, and put it back together in a way that is purely their own.”
The Suitcase Junket, who builds his own instruments from scrap and salvage, and homesteads in Western Massachusetts, has collaborated with Smither, originally from New Orleans but now a Bay State resident as well, on several albums, laying down backing rhythms behind Smither’s steadily tapping toe and intricate, Mississippi John Hurt guitar figures.
“I’ve known The Suitcase Junket a few years now and am really glad he’s on the bill with me,” says Smither. “I am looking forward to returning to the beautiful Bellows Falls Opera House. It’s been way too long. It’s good to see it’s so well-loved. If only all historic old concert halls were so lucky.”
Ray Massucco, for whom the series is named, was a beloved local lawyer and indefatigable music supporter, and passed away unexpectedly in September, 2022.Next Stage Arts of Putney is co-presenting the series with Ray’s The Roof Productions. Media sponsor is Great Eastern Radio. The final concert of the 2023 series is scheduled for November 5, featuring the Vermont Symphony Orchestra with vocalist Kat Wright.
The Bellows Falls Opera House is located at 7 Village Square, Bellows Falls, VT. Doors at 6:30, showtime 7:30. Tickets and information at www.BellowsFallsOperaHouse.com or call 802-387-0102.