Master guitarist Richard Smith and accomplished cellist Julie Adams are returning to the Eastern Sierra this fall for what is promised to be another rousing performance.
The dynamic duo has lit up the Inyo Council for the Arts stage more than once over the past several years, and has been invited back to perform Monday, Oct. 17 at ICA’s Bishop headquarters.
The concert is set to begin at 7 p.m.
According to the ICA, Smith and Adams make quite the pair, combining both passion for their craft and unrivaled talent.
Smith is a former wunderkind and widely acclaimed guitar virtuoso.
He was born in Beckenham, Kent, England in 1971, and got his start, legend has it, one day at the age of 5 when he was watching his father fingerpick “Down South Blues” (an Atkins-Travis recording) on his guitar. The boy begged his dad to show him how to play it, and finally he did. Despite the fact that Smith is left-handed and his dad’s right-handed guitar was not designed for tiny hands, by the end of that day, Richard learned and played both the chords and the melody. Within no time, the toddler outstripped his dad’s six-string prowess and it was clear to all who saw or heard him play that Smith was one of those rare phenomena – a child prodigy, according to the ICA.
Concentrating initially on the music his father loved – the country picking of Chet
Dynamic duo performing at ICAAtkins and Merle Travis – young Smith went on to digest everything he heard, learning even the most complicated of these tunes with ease, and confounding everyone with his dexterity. It seemed that, not only did the boy possess amazing physical skill, but a photographic musical memory as well. Often, a single hearing was all it took to get a piece under his fingers.
Smith’s career and reputation were really launched when he met his hero, the “Godfather” of finger style guitar, Chet Atkins when he was only 11 and was invited by Chet to play with him on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London in front of an audience of about a thousand. He played Atkins’ arrangement of “Whispering,” and Atkins played along with him. Then the audience went mad and Atkins asked him to play another one. Before Smith could decide what to play, someone shouted “Little Rock Getaway,” and Smith played Atkins’ arrangement of it while Atkins, not playing this time, watched him in amazement playing to a stunned and appreciative audience.
By the time Smith reached his early 20s, both Atkins and Jerry Reed began to refer to Smith as their “Hero” – and still do.
“There seems to be no limit to Richard’s ability to quickly master whatever guitar style captures his fancy,” an ICA press release states. “The complex styles of many guitar greats including Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, and Lenny Breau have proved to be no impediment to his voracious musical appetite. Apart from his guitar virtuosity, he is also an accomplished banjo and violin player.”
According to the ICA, Smith has toured around the world, surprising audiences with his genius, showcasing a repertoire spanning an incredible range of musical styles from country, bluegrass, mainstream jazz, modern pop and rock, to classical guitar. Smith also plays several of John Phillip Souza’s marches and, incredibly, comes close to sounding like an entire marching band – drums and all.
In 1999, Smith married the lovely and very accomplished American cellist Julie Adams and settled in the Nashville, Tenn. area.
Adams is described as one of the most diverse cellists on the music scene today. Raised in Dayton, Ohio, and classically trained at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Cincinnati Conservatory, she has won many competitions and played in a wide variety of musical settings. In 1996, she was selected to perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Conservatory Orchestra. Since then, Adams has performed with orchestras in Chicago, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio and Vero Beach, Fla.
“When Richard and Julie play together, it’ll melt your heart – and blow your socks off,” said an ICA spokesperson.
Tickets for the Oct. 17 concert can be purchased by phone or in person at Inyo Council for the Arts, located at 137 S. Main St., Bishop. For more information, call (760) 873-8014.