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.
Here’s a link to one of Alan’s performances: