Bits 'n' Pieces: Guitarist to share influences at concert

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photoDoug Smith

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Doug Smith plays “Embryonic Journey,” by Jorma Kaukonen:

Grammy-winning guitarist Doug Smith has tapped a lot of creative influences over the years, ranging from a friend's cat to legendary picker Chet Atkins.

The results will be on display Saturday in a 7 p.m. performance at Vancouver's First Congregational Church, 1220 N.E. 68th St.

The concert will celebrate the release of his new CD, "Six-String Paradox." The Vancouver guitarist will be joined by his wife, Judy Koch Smith, on flute and vocals.

Proceeds also will benefit a restoration project at the church. Tickets are $15, cash or check only; tickets are available at the door, or by calling 360-696-0380 or 360-693-1476.

Half the songs on "Six-String Paradox" are covers and half are originals -- including the first song he wrote. Smith was in high school when he wrote "The Blue Duchess of Orange."

"A friend had a cat, a blue point Siamese named Duchess, in Orange County" in California, he said.

One of the covers is another tune that has been in Smith's repertoire for a while. The way Smith learned the song says something about technology in the 1970s. When Chet Atkins played "Misionera" on a PBS appearance with the Boston Pops, Smith wanted to figure out the tune. He also was captivated by Atkins' finger-picking style.

"There were no VCRs back then, no YouTube," he said. "I got a cassette recorder and set it in front of the TV, and that's how I learned the song."

Smith earned his Grammy in 2005 (for best pop instrumental) as one of several artists who recorded "Pink Guitar," a tribute to Henry Mancini.

His guitar work has been featured in the films "Twister," "August Rush" and "Moll Flanders." The seven-minute "Moll Flanders Suite" is on the new CD.

Smith teaches a beginning guitar class through Clark College's continuing education program. He also teaches private lessons, which often can refresh his own memories of how a youngster can be captivated by a piece of music.

"My students will bring me a song and want to know how to play it," he said.-- Tom Vogt

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.