PORT TOWNSEND — Johnsmith — yes, the artist is known by the one name — has stepped back into life as a troubadour.
Having set out Aug. 30 from his hometown of Trempeleau, Wis., on the banks of the Mississippi River, he’s coming to Port Townsend for a concert Saturday night.
Rainshadow Recording studio’s front yard, outside Building 315 at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way, is the place. Tickets to the 6 p.m. concert can be found here, or at the venue Saturday evening.
“He’s a wonderful singer-songwriter who’s been doing it for decades,” Rainshadow’s Everett Moran said of Johnsmith.
The performer, alongside his wife Jo, is in the midst of a road trip celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary: They’ve driven their Volkswagen camper across seven western states now.
Johnsmith himself, reached by phone Thursday on a stop outside Astoria, Ore., summed up his mission: He sings songs about life. He writes about loved ones, loss, grandbabies being born and the birds he sees and hears when walking among trees.
“I have some really funny stuff. And I also do songs that people might need a tissue for. I try not to do too many of those,” he said.
As for the origin of his singular moniker, Johnsmith said his given name was John Joseph Smith, but when it came time long ago to establish a website, his friend and graphic designer suggested he mash first and last together.
“She said, ‘I think you should try this,’” and it stuck, piquing people’s attention ever since.
Johnsmith is also known for leading songwriting retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., and for guiding musical tours of Ireland “for people who don’t like tours.”
He has eight solo CDs to his credit, including “Break Me Open,” “to the Four Directions,” “Hole in the Clouds” and the latest, “Ginkgo.” They’re available at johnsmithmusic.com.
After a few more concerts in the Pacific Northwest, he and Jo expect to head back home and reach Trempeleau around Sept. 21, just before the autumnal equinox.
“Then I’ll go right into the studio to start a new CD,” he said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]