The Madison County Arts Council (MCAC) presents national fingerstyle guitar champion Richard Smith in concert on Sunday, July 30, at 4 p.m. at Ebbs Chapel Performing Arts Center in Mars Hill.
At just 11 years of age, Smith was referred to by Chet Atkins as, “the most amazing guy I know on the guitar.” Since then, Smith has won numerous awards and was inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame in 2009.
“What endeared me to Richard was his sense of humor,” says MCAC executive director Laura Boosinger. “Sure, he plays great, but his laid-back, fun performance style makes his music accessible for all and such a pleasure to experience.”
Born in 1971 in Beckenham, England, Smith first picked up the guitar at age five when his father taught him his first chords and songs. After some early solo performances and six years of working as a trio with two of his brothers, Rob and Sam in the 1990s, Richard moved to Nashville.
“What I love about fingerstyle guitar is the ability to play unaccompanied and have a full sound that is a little more pianistic,” says Smith. “As much fun as it is to play with a band, it’s nice to be able to play solo and not feel like the rhythm or bass has dropped out completely. You’ve always got a groove going with your thumb, or some kind of harmonic reference to support the melody.”
Smith has performed or recorded with music legends including Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Tommy Emmanuel and Earl Klugh. His repertoire includes fingerpicking classics, originals, fiddle tunes, blues, Joplin rags, jazz standards, classical and everything from pop to Sousa marches.
“I like to keep a musically varied show in terms of style,” he says. “I’ll probably sing a few, and there’ll certainly be tunes played on solo guitar that people would expect to hear.”
Ebbs Chapel Performing Arts Center is located at 281 Laurel Valley Road, Mars Hill. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Visit MadisonCountyArts.com or call 828.649.1301 for more information and tickets.