Eli Smith

Eli Smith


I play original and traditional songs songs on banjo, guitar, harmonica, kazoo and fiddle. Its a folk/blues/oldtime style that is firmly rooted in music history but is not nostalgic or stale. The music and lyrics are straight forward, timely, and easy to understand.


I have been enthralled by folk music since I was a teenager here in New York City in the late 90's. Mississippi John Hurt and Woody Guthrie were the first two that I went crazy for, but there have been many others: Roscoe Holcomb, Dink Roberts, New Lost City Ramblers, Holy Modal Rounders, Leadbelly, Blind Boy Fuller, Jesse Fuller, G.B. Grayson, Wade Ward, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Memphis Jug Band, Gus Cannon, Bascom Lunsford, Frank Proffitt, Honeyboy Edwards, and many others.

My style if firmly rooted in long study of the old recordings. Fantastic stuff! But I'm not stuck in any idealized past, nor do I try to replicate the performances on the record. I love to write and I write my own songs with a contemporary edge. These songs address my own experience using the techniques I have learned from listening to old records and seeking out older musicians and scholars. I am blending the old and the new in as potent a mix as I can make, no holds barred!


I have one self released EP that I sell at shows. Two of my tracks were featured on a CD called "Got the Impeach Bush/Cheney Blues" on Random Chance Records.

Set List

I have played short sets and have also played for up to 4 hours at a time. I could play for more than that if need be. I mix original songs with traditional songs. I have a large repertoire. Here is a sample set:
Reuben's Train (trad)
All the Same to Me (original)
Life's Tough (original)
Candy Man (trad)
Coal Creek March (trad)
Stars In My Pocket (original)
You're Gonna Look Like a Monkey (trad)
Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad (trad)
Under the Gun (original)
Lose to the Odds (original)
Trouble In Mind (trad)
Jesse James (trad)
Tryin' Not to Be Your Man (original)
Talkin Island Unknown (original)
Ballad Khalid El Masri (original)
Shoutin' In Jerusalem Just Like John (trad)
New York Blues (original)
Bright Sunny South (trad)