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From St. Croix, Virgin Islands: Chris "Smokestack" Simmons

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JJ Rocks Article # 24: From St. Croix, Virgin Islands: Chris "Smokestack" Simmons
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 5, February, 2007
You know, I grew up through a musical world that was surrounded by players that would play any song that comes on the top 40 radio stations just to pay the bills, and others who have good day jobs and can play what they want but suffer in their musicianship. In fact I cant remember anyone with a great musical talent that didnt have to musically prostitute themselves to pay the family bills. This is not a put down for those who had to go through that because I had to myself. These are just comments on a sad reality that I was used to most of my life. You either heard good players on a real gig, or you went to a jam session on your night off and heard not so good players. But that was ok because they were just having fun and you werent out to judge anyone. But once in a blue moon you meet a musician who breaks those rules. A guy that certainly doesnt have to support himself by playing but displays a level of musicianship that many professionals would pay admission to see. A guy named Chris Simmons.

To be honest, I wasnt attracted to blues harmonica players before I heard Chris. Maybe its because as soon as most people would pick up a harp at a jam session, I would have to go to the parking lot a get a breath of fresh air, if you know what I mean. But when Chris starts to play I cant help but to be drawn to his melodic phrases like a moth to a hazy street lamp outside of an after hours hot blues club. Along with an ability to keep creating and recreating new musical thoughts on the spot, he also gives off an aura that shines with a glow that is noticed by anyone who enters the room. I have never seen anyone who turned down the opportunity to have Chris sit in and play his harp. In fact, Im going to try to get him on some good recordings and post them here at a later time because his article will always be here as long as this magazine is alive.

So we here at St. Croix music magazine are proud to have Chris Simmons featured as our musician of the month. He has the personality and musical abilities that help us set the standards for other players that we will choose to feature in the future. And if you are a band that is planning on playing in St. Croix and you have a harmonica player, tell him to polish up his chops because Chris Smoke Stack Simmons just might be in the audience.

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