Sweet River Grace
Christopher Smith has been writing acoustic music and performing in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. He writes well-crafted story songs that aim for the heart. Fusing elements of humor and sadness, his songs feature characters that are quirky, vulnerable and unforgettable. His music is primarily based in the folk tradition, accompanying himself on fingerstyle guitar, octave mandolin, and banjo. Christopher traces his musical roots to listening to Ray Conniff on his parent's Westinghouse hi-fi. In middle school he was given his first acoustic guitar, an old Stella, and set out to learn to fingerpick. The songwriting bug bit him right away, writing his first songs at age 13. He's been writing ever since. In the early eighties Christopher plugged in as rhythm guitarist for Bay Area rock band One-O-One. They played such legendary venues as Uncle Charlie's, Mabuhay Gardens, and The Sleeping Lady, opening for the likes of The New Riders, Maria Muldaur, and Huey Lewis. He eventually burned all his skinny ties and went back to making the music he loved best. In the early nineties Christopher became a kindergarten teacher and began writing and performing extensively for children. His first children's recording, Carry Me Home, quickly became a Bay Area favorite. His 1996 release, The Golden Gate, was a Parent's Choice Award Winner. Throughout the nineties, Christopher continued to craft songs for adult audiences as well. He performs in local listening rooms such as The Sweetwater in Mill Valley, Cafe Amsterdam in Fairfax, and Strings in Emeryville. He also makes pilgrimages to the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, and the Strawberry Music Fest to try out new material with other songwriters. Christopher was the 'Best Song' winner of Mountain Stage's 2003 NewSong competition, and also won the 2002 Sisters Folk Festival songwriting competition. He was a finalist at Rocky Folks Festival songwriting competition in 2002, the Telluride Festival's Troubadour Competition in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sisters Folk Festival songwriting competition in 2000. In 2002, Christopher celebrates the release of Sweet River Grace, his first solo release for adults. This recording gives a full-band sound to his original material. It features Chojo Jacques on fiddle and James Nash on guitar and mandolin (both members of the Waybacks), Michael Arrow (of the Red Hot Chachkas) on drums and percussion, John Lester on bass, and Duncan Draper on accordion and keyboard, Other guest musicians include Noah Hammond on harmonica, Peter Tracy on guitar, Lindalou and Michael Ryge on vocals, and Klaudia Prommessi on saxophone.