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The best acoustic guitarists are really alchemists. The late John Fahey conjured ghosts that sent prickles up the neck of his six-string. Richard Thompson can still coax his strings into vocal cords. And Chris Smither rides his blue Alvarez as if it were a dancing racehorse. Smither can gallop. He can canter. But he entices us with delicate work underneath all that. The blues is rightfully a raw thing, but Smither—born in Louisiana, then musically honed by Boston’s acoustic-music scene—manages to smooth it without erasing the edge altogether. His compositions reflect his influences—Mississippi John Hurt’s fluid riffs support Randy Newman’s piercing outward gaze. Now touring to promote his 10th recording in 30 years, Live as I’ll Ever Be, Smither takes to the stage with Bruce Smith at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $15. (703) 549-7500. (Pamela Murray Winters)