Chris Smither @ World Cafe Live
World Cafe Live – Philadelphia
So, a few years ago, actually quite a few years ago I was dining at Olivier’s Creole Restaurant in New Orleans. Having ordered a cup of Gumbo for openers I noticed a green vegetable on the plate the cup was on. I wasn’t familiar with this vegetable so I asked the waiter and he told me it was okra. I took a bite and fell in love with okra. Very shortly after that I was listening to some music and heard a song about a fruit and vegetable huckster in New Orleans and I heard the word okra. I figured it must be a sign and I immediately bought the album containing the song “No Love Today” by Chris Smither. I have been a big fan ever since.
Now that brings me to World Cafe Live in Philadelphia to see Chris Smither perform live.
It isn’t the first time photographing Chris. That first time was at the 2010 Philadelphia Folk Festival but I have been listening to and enjoying his music for years now and looking forward to another live performance. The show was opened by a singer/songwriter named Milton. I don’t have a lot to say about Milton EXCEPT, If you aren’t aware of him….get aware. He is fantastic.
I love surprises and often get them from performers opening for the headliner. Milton, was a real treat of a surprise. Great stories in his songs as well as between his songs. Only one name to remember, Milton.
Smither opened with “Open Up” and right into “Make Room For Me”. At this point I realized the percussion I heard was from a mic right down at the floor amplifying his foot tapping. I had forgotten he did this. He then sang a song he said his mother would hate, singing and playing “Don’t call me Stranger”. As I was only allowed to photograph three songs I then went home. Naah, not on your life but I did want to pause here to mention a story Smither told about joining a friend in New York and going to Greenwich Village to hear Mississippi John Hurt. He was young and just getting into music but knew he wanted to see John Hurt. From a seat way up front but not being familiar with Opening Acts he wondered who the guy was on stage. A guy at the next table told him it was Tom Paxton. Mississippi John Hurt then played but when he was joined by a guy in a Hawaiian shirt Smither asked the guy again who that was. Turned out to be John Sebastian. Ahhh youth.
So, I guess you are wondering if Smither sang that song with okra in it. You can bet he did. “No Love Today” absolutely one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite singers, songwirters and a fabulous guitar player, Chris Smither. Before I forget he also sang an absolutely fantastic version of Chuck Berry’s “ Maybellene”. He is on the road so if you can catch him live do so. I absolutely know you will love the night of great music.
Mark J. Smith