It was a moist, rainy and bloody cold night in Nuremberg when I met Richard Smerin. I was wondering the streets of the old town of the city at just a little after midnight, the rain was hitting down hard, but through the discordant tangle of rain against stone, I heard the gentle cry of a deep soulful voice, attached to it a rough London accent singing its broken hearted melody over the strained strings of an acoustic guitar – live blues on the streets of Nuremberg.
How could I resist a chat? I approached the leather-clad gent and listened to the remainder of the track he way playing – it was slow but full of heart – though with a distinctly different ring from his recorded music. After he was finished I threw a few Euros into his case and he motioned towards me. He was a tad grumpy – perhaps the rain? Perhaps the lost love that so often accompanies musicians on their journey? He told me that he’s living in Europe – a resident of the continent. The conversation didn’t go too much further – though he said I could give him anything for the cd (The Trouble With Me) that I bought from him (I gave him a tenner).
I asked a little about what he’s doing here in Europe but his answers were short – blurred almost – and he really disliked my camera. He once wrote songs about being in love but that night he simply sat inside the castle walls of an old medieval city, taking refuge from the rain nestled into a bundle of leather and wool, while giving the impression that he’d rather be alone. He asked for a cigarette from one of the group that I was with – it was a menthol – or mental – as he called it. While he smoked we shared a few more words, about England, about music and the night there in Nuremberg until we left him once more, alone, to play his music.
When I returned home I just had to look him up – I found that he once had quite a following – in fact he still does. He’s released a few albums (fourteen now), never quite made it big – but big enough certainly and has managed to make a good name for himself on the Blues scene – though he still seems to “live in Europe” – a traveller after my own heart it seems.
These days you might find him playing gigs around the venues of Germany, Holland etc., or you might just bump into him on the streets. If you do happen upon him – spare a moment to listen to a song or two and have a chat – you’ll find that he is a humble and genuine gentleman.