Born in Miami, during World War II, Chris Smither grew up in New Orleans where he first started playing music as a child. The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.” With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. By the early ’90s, Smither’s steady nationwide touring and regular release of consistently acclaimed albums cemented his reputation as one of the finest acoustic musicians in the country. In October 2020, More From The Levee, the follow up to the 50-year career retrospective Still on the Levee, was released.
“Bathed in the flickering glow of passing headlights and neon bar signs, Smither’s roots are as blue as they come. There is plenty of misty Louisiana and Lightnin’ Hopkins in Smither’s weathered singing and unhurried picking. So fine.” -Rolling Stone
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. Gaining attention in the 1980’s with Colorado’s Hot Rize, O’Brien scored a country hit with Kathy Mattea’s cover of his song Walk the Way the Wind Blows in 1986. Soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks also covered his songs. Collaborators include his sister Mollie O’Brien, old time musician Dirk Powell and songwriter Darrell Scott, as well as Steve Earle, Bill Frisell, Mark Knopfler and Sturgill Simpson. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
O’Brien says his most recent recording “He Walked On” is about “what you need to do to survive in America”. Covering work, racial issues, and modern technology, its eight originals and five covers offer an expansive portrayal of the nation from its beginnings to the present day, Personnel includes long time band mates Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle) and Jan Fabricius (mandolin and vocal), along with drummer Pete Abbott, bassist Edgar Meyer, guitarist Bo Ramsey, and gospel singer Odessa Settles.
Other notable O’Brien recordings like the bluegrass Dylan covers of “Red on Blonde” and the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of “The Crossing” led to Grammy winning CD’s “Fiddler’s Green” (2005) and “The Earls of Leicester” (2014). 2017’s Where the River Meets the Road paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. Tim O’Brien performs in a duet setting with his partner Jan Fabricius on harmony vocals. Featuring his solid guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, the shows cover a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humor.