Putnam Smith, who hails from Portland, Maine, could be an old-world troubadour fresh from the 19th Century. After all, he lives in a log cabin, plays his Grandfather's banjo, and prints up the jackets to his CDs on an antique letterpress. Yet this rootsy multi-instrumentalist songwriter (he also writes and performs on guitar, mandolin, fretless banjo, and piano), steeped as he is in Appalachian traditions, is very much a storyteller for the modern age.
Putnam first came to national attention when his sophomore release, "Goldrush," went to #5 on the national Folk DJ Charts (and made it onto 6 "Favorite Albums of 2009" lists). His next release, "We Could Be Beekeepers, (June, 2011), shot right up the charts the month it was released, to the #2 album, with 3 songs in the top ten. Noted as "One To Watch" (Rob Reinhart, Acoustic Cafe), Putnam has been selected for official showcases at Folk Alliance International (2012) and the NERFA Conference (2012). Also selected as an Emerging Artist at the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (2016), Putnam is proving himself to be a quickly rising star on the national folkscape. His most recent release, "Kitchen, Love..."(2013) made it onto WDCB Chicago's Folk Festival “Favorite 15 albums of 2013.” The song “New Shoes” made the “Best Songs of 2013” list of Tupelo Honey of KRVM, Eugene, OR.
Putnam is also an extraordinary performer, whose craft at songwriting is matched only by his love for putting on a truly memorable show. Says Sarah Banks, formerly of Spuyten Duyvil: ""One of the most magical performances I've had the luck to attend!" Engaging folks with humor, charm, and storytelling, Putnam's audiences have been known to howl like wolves, sing like moonshiners, and laugh and cry like, well, like human beings. Whether performing solo, or with cello, fiddle, or upright bass, Putnam puts on a unique and remarkable show that lingers in the heart, mind, and imagination, long after the last round of applause.
A nationally touring artist, Putnam has performed in 40 states from East Coast to West. Some favorite venues that Putnam has played, include: Club Passim (Boston), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), Me and Thee Coffeehouse (Marblehead, MA), Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY), Anderson Fair (Houston, TX), Trinity House Theatre (Livonia, MI), High Plains Public Radio (Amarillo, TX), and “Gene Shay Presents” @ Psalm Salon (Philadelphia).
Every spring, Putnam returns home from life on the road, to his log cabin in Maine, in time to plant his spinach and peas. Though he still plays local shows for his "cash crop," Putnam's primary focus during the summer months is living as simply and sustainably as possible. Something of a 'modern day homesteader' he cuts and splits his own firewood, and cultivates a substantive garden. "I'm trying to live more closely to the means of my own subsistence. I figure, the more I can cut down my expenses, the less money I need to make from music" It's also a way of balancing the troubadour's life on the road, with a more rooted, grounded existence, close to the Earth. Then, after he's planted his garlic for the following summer, and canned up as much of the season's harvest as he can, he heads out on the road, playing shows all across the country. Luckily for his music, Maine has a short growing season...
Putnam is a compost enthusiast and a self avowed 'proselytizer' for cast iron pans. Yup, you just gotta ask him about it.
Whether performing solo, as a duo with Ashley Storrow, or with cellist April Reed-Cox, Putnam puts on a unique and remarkable show that lingers in the heart, mind, and imagination, long after the last round of applause.
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