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Richard Smith Plays San Diego
with Cellist Julie Adams

(reprinted by permission from Fine Guitar Consultants' FCGMagOnline Special thanks to Richard Glick)

San Diego, CA
June 6, 2000

By Sally van Haitsma

A week ago it would be highly unlikely that you had ever heard of Richard Smith. That is, unless you had been making the yearly pilgrimage to Nashville to participate in the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. For those of us living in San Diego this all changed when Richard played his handmade Kirk Sand semi-hollow acoustic guitar during his hour with self-avowed guitar-head Dirk Sutro, host of the KPBS radio program, "The Lounge."

Listeners of the live June 6, 2000 radio show were wowed by Richard's nimble, "finger-style" guitar technique reminiscent of both Chet Atkins and Django Reinhardt. He admitted to a-fake nail freshly applied to his index finger that afternoon to replace one that had succumbed to the physicality of his style. One caller obviously enthralled by the rich and complex sound Richard produced said he would have to see Richard in person to believe there weren't three guitarists playing in the radio studio. He got his chance the following Thursday night when Richard Smith performed at Twiggs Coffeehouse in San Diego.
A very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd attended Richard's June 8th performance at Twiggs. Watching his fingers deftly dance all over thestrings was a wonder to behold. No simple folkie strumming for this young man, who finger-picked his way through bass lines, chords and melodies, conjuring sounds that ranged from a harp to a snare drum. Even those of us who aren't well versed in guitar technique knew we were witnessing a guitarist of exceptional talent. And Richard Smith's modesty and good humor made his performance all the more pleasurable. Harkening from Nashville via England, he had the foreigner's unjaded perspective in his choice of music. It's hard to imagine an

Richard Smith
American guitarist selecting John Phillip Sousa as part of his repertoire, but in Richard's capable hands he took a musty march and made it a melodious marvel. In fact, most of the songs he played were familiar standards including "Over the Rainbow", "Georgia," "Starry, Starry Night," "Black Mountain Rag," a couple guitar favorites by Jerry Reed, as well as several classical pieces by Mozart, Chopin and Bach. That he chose familiar tunes was a wonderful way for his audience to appreciate the brilliance of his guitar arrangements and technique, and share in his love for experiencing a full spectrum of guitar styles.

Topping off the evening were a couple guitar and cello duets with his wife, Julie Adams, a classically trained cellist. This produced a curious and exciting blend of bluegrass and country traditions within the formal classical style. Richard and Julie are working on a CD together which should be available later this year. In the meantime, where ever you live, whatever you're doing, if you see Richard Smith listed in your local music calendar, you owe it to yourself to see him play the guitar. It will be an awe-inspiring experience!

--Sally van Haitsma is a San Diego based freelance writer whose musical taste runs from Richard Smith to The Cramps and Bill Evans.   

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