John Smith is the guitar man from Devon who has quietly become one of the most exciting voices on the new British folk scene. Touring relentlessly as headliner and support act, he has opened shows for John Martyn, Iron and Wine, Seth Lakeman, 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. Slow but sure.
John plays the steel-string acoustic guitar. Sometimes with a slide, sometimes on his lap, sometimes de-tuning the thing mid-song. He was named Young Acoustic Guitarist Of The Year in 2003 and hasn’t stopped to look back, unless it’s to pick up a banjo. His playing combined with his honey-on-gravel vocals have brought crowds to pin-drop silence and rapturous applause.
John has four records out; The Fox and the Monk (2006), Map Or Direction (2009), a collection of covers, Eavesdropping (2011), and his latest release, Great Lakes (2013). These are self-released and available through this website or at concerts.
“I believe in John Smith; his motivations are pure, his vision is straight, his music is honest and true. Were I to discover another man’s music flowing through my body and out my hands, and that music to be his, I would consider myself both lucky and blessed.”
Kelly Joe Phelps
“Map Or Direction finds his own unselfconsciously mythic songwriting bolstered by rippling guitar parts and a wounded-bear bray. Great things are ahead.”
The Sunday Times
“A guitar genius…He sounds as though he arrived 60 years ago but looks startlingly young, perched on a chair, quietly confident, charming and instantly engaging.”
“John Smith again demonstrates why he is regarded as the guitarists’ guitarist.”
The Sunday Times
“Utterly engrossing, earthy and compelling.”
“Fluent guitar work and stimulating songs.”
“Weathered and warm.”
“A truly beguiling sound…pure, honest and compelling.”
Irish Sunday Business
“Displays admiral craft and musicianship.”
“Do yourself a favour and get acquainted with John Smith right now.”
“Achieves something quietly spectacular…John Smith has created a real thing of beauty.”
Thank Folk For That
“Feels like a favourite coat which grows more comfortable with each wearing.”
Folk Radio UK
“Lays bare his fiercely accomplished guitar playing…the quality of Great Lakes is such that you hope John Smith will never stop writing.”
“Great Lakes is ambient and effortlessly captivating.”