While he may have the most common name in the world, there is nothing commonplace about John Smith. The guitar man from Devon has quietly become one of the most exciting voices on the new British folk scene. He was named Young Acoustic Guitarist Of The Year in 2003 and hasn’t stopped to look back since, unless it’s to pick up a banjo.
Touring relentlessly as headliner and support act, he has opened shows for John Martyn, Iron and Wine, Ben Howard, Richard Hawley, Davy Graham, John Renbourn, David Gray, Cara Dillon, James Yorkston, Martin Carthy, Jools Holland, Tinariwen, Martin Simpson, Gil Scott-Heron and Chris Thile. John is a regular on the UK festival circuit, having played shows at Glastonbury, Green Man, Cambridge and many others. In this way, he has found a loyal following in the UK and Ireland, Europe, Japan, Mexico, the USA and Canada.
John is always looking to communicate through a song, and to share something intangible with those willing to listen. He plays the steel-string acoustic guitar — sometimes with a slide, sometimes on his lap, sometimes de-tuning the thing mid-song. His playing combined with his honey-on-gravel vocals have brought crowds to pin-drop silence and rapturous applause.
Not by chance is it that John’s current record ‘Headlong’ comes bearing a title implying impulsive, breakneck motion – written as it was, during various touring stints in North America – with a view ahead, to new horizons and new songs, to new opportunities and new audiences. The album also bears the indelible loss of John’s friend and guitar hero John Renbourn, who called John “the future of folk music” and to whose memory ‘Headlong’ is dedicated.
John currently has five self-released records out: ‘The Fox and the Monk’ (2006), ‘Map Or Direction’ (2009), ‘Eavesdropping’ (2011) ‘Great Lakes’ (2013), and ‘Headlong’ (2017).
“You’re smiling even as tears catch in your throat.” – MOJO
“Spellbinding.” – TIMEOUT
“Staggeringly good.” – Acoustic Magazine