The Man With The Blue Guitar

Chris Smither prefers building songs to building houses

His timing, both on-stage and off, could not have been better. Acoustic music is enjoying a renaissance, and Smither is one of its most accomplished practitioners. "They're starting to sell a lot of acoustic guitars these days," Smither notes. "A friend of mine gave me an advance cassette of Dylan's new release. I haven't heard it yet, but he says it's just Dylan and an acoustic guitar. Of course, Dylan's been following my career for some time. No doubt he's seen the great success I've had with it."

Smither's upcoming dates at the Riverwalk Blues Festival and the Cactus Cantina will be a homecoming in the truest sense of the word. Smither was born in Miami, at Jackson Memorial Hospital. "The last time I was down there was about fifteen years ago. I was touring with Townes Van Zandt. We played someplace in Coral Gables, looked like a converted ice cream parlor full of wire-backed chairs."

It is suggested to Smither that post-Andrew South Florida might be the ideal place for a musician with his unique talents. He can play the blues one day and swing a mean hammer the next, maybe pick up a few bucks between gigs working construction in Homestead. He laughs at the prospect. "Hell, I wake up in the morning and shake my head. I can't believe I'm doing this for a living. I don't tell people I'm a carpenter any more when they ask me what I do, and I don't dream about stardom. I'm just happy to be able to support myself doing something I love. I like my job. It's better than carpentry, although I don't look at houses the same way any more."

CHRIS SMITHER performs at 3:00 and 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the RiverwalkBlues Festival this weekend at BubierPark, Las Olas Blvd and Andrews Ave,Ft Lauderdale, 764-1912. Admission is $5. He also performs at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. November 14 at Cactus Cantina, 630 6th St, Miami Beach, 532-5095. Admission is free.

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