Chris Smither @ The Hamilton Live – May 29th 2024
Chris Smither @ The Hamilton Live – May 29th 2024

Photo Gallery: Chris Smither @ The Hamilton Live – May 29th, 2024

At 79 years old (he turns 80 in November), New Orleans blues and folk singer Chris Smither shows no sign of slowing down. He released his 17th studio album, All About the Bones, last month, and it’s one of his strongest yet. The record’s meditations on mortality (“All About the Bones”, “In the Bardo”, “Completion”) might be a result of Smither’s age, but even those are sung with the wit and charm (and a bit of a sly wink) that has always accompanied his songwriting. His tour for the album brought him to The Hamilton in Washington, DC last week, where he played most of the new record along with a selection of fan favorites from throughout his catalog.

His deep voice may be a little raspier (though it’s always had a bit of that) but has lost none of its power, and throughout a lengthy set Smither showed that he is still a master of his craft. For this tour, Smither is backed by guitarist David Goodrich, who as a sideman adds texture and depth to the songs while knowing when to hang back and let Smither be the focus.

“I will live to be a hundred/I was born in ’44/Twenty left to go but I ain’t keeping score,” Smither sang in his song “Leave the Light On,” and to watch him perform you would surely believe it. That said, seeing him perform while you can is highly recommended. He’s got a touring schedule that would exhaust many younger performers, with dates throughout the US and Canada scheduled through the summer and into the fall.

Opening for Smither was his friend and protégé Peter Mulvey, with Goodrich pulling double-duty backing him as well. Mulvey takes on the traditional role of the folk singer as social commentator, and his set included observations on life and politics. A particularly striking (and clever) song took on the issue of living wages, focusing on how Jeff Bezos can afford to build rockets and fly into space but doesn’t pay many of his employees enough to live on. While his tour with Smither is coming to an end, Mulvey also has a number of tour dates coming through the rest of the year.

PHOTOS © MATT CONDON

Chris Smither

Peter Mulvey

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