Alan Smithline has a resume most blues guitarists
would kill for. He was one of those lucky souls who lived and studied
with the legendary guitarist, Reverend Gary Davis, who many consider
to be the greatest of all the classic blues players. In the blues realm,
that’s something akin to studying with Beethoven or Debussy. Smithline
has spent the ensuing years dedicated to perfecting and refining the
techniques learned at the feet of the master. He plays all the classic
Davis rags, blues, and gospel pieces that you’d expect. But he
does much more than merely play dry transcriptions of classics. He fills
them with the life and spirit and buoyancy of someone who understands
his material thoroughly. This makes him more than a preservationist.
He likes to take the Davis method and apply it to some unlikely material.
So don’t be surprised if you hear that that unique independent
thumb, fingerpicking style applied Dylan, Turtles, or even Dean Martin
songs. And don’t be surprised to feel the spirit of the Reverend
and imagine his smile of delight directed at the pupil who learned his
lessons so well.