Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MUSIC - STAFF RE­PORT

Born in Kent, Eng­land in 1971, Richard Smith started play­ing gui­tar at age 5 un­der the in­struc­tion of his fa­ther. At first con­cen­trat­ing on the coun­try pick­ing of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, the young­ster di­gested ev­ery­thing he heard, learn­ing even the most com­pli­cated tunes with ease and amaz­ing ev­ery­one with his dex­ter­ity.

It seemed that not only did he pos­sess great phys­i­cal skill, but a pho­to­graphic mu­si­cal mem­ory as well. Often, a sin­gle hear­ing was all it took to get a piece un­der his fingers. He used all 10 fingers to play bass, rhythm and melody si­mul­ta­ne­ously, while eas­ily switch­ing be­tween thumbpick­ing and flat­pick­ing.

Smith fi­nally met his hero, Chet Atkins, when he was 11. The star in­vited Smith to share the stage with him at Her Majesty’s The­atre in Lon­don in front of an au­di­ence of 1,000. At first, Atkins ac­com­pa­nied him; but later, he just lis­tened in stunned si­lence while young Smith played Atkins’ own ar­range­ments per­fectly. By the time Smith reached his early 20s, Atkins and Jerry Reed be­gan to re­fer to him as their hero.

Now re­sid­ing in Nashville, Smith has toured the world as a solo artist, team­ing up with wife Julie Adams for a unique gui­tar and cello duo. He also per­forms with his brothers, Rob and Sam, as the Richard Smith Gui­tar Trio, and with his swing band, The Hot Club of Nashville.

The gui­tar vir­tu­oso stops in Chat­tanooga tonight, Jan. 10, for a 7:30 p.m. show at Bark­ing Legs The­ater.

In 2001, Smith be­came the Na­tional Finger­style Gui­tar Cham­pion in Win­field, Kansas. He was elected Thumbpicker of the Year in 2008 and in­ducted into the Na­tional Thumbpick­ers Hall of Fame in Ken­tucky in 2009. He is also a re­cip­i­ent of the Golden Thumbpick Award by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Finger­style Gui­tarists in Cal­i­for­nia.

Richard’s ever- grow­ing reper­toire ranges from Bach to The Bea­tles. He plays Scott Joplin rags just like Sousa marches, Chopin, Mozart, fid­dle tunes, jazz stan­dards to Django Rein­hardt gypsy swing.

As Atkins said of Smith, “He can play any­thing I know, only bet­ter.”


Richard Smith, left, with Brent Ma­son. Smith will play a show tonight at Bark­ing Legs The­ater.

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