Byther Smith | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Byther Smith


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Chicago still has a lot of blues musicians scuffling in the clubs waiting for their big break, and guitarist Byther Smith may well be the sleeper of the bunch. Smitty can be unpredictable, but when he's on, his guitar work is vintage early-60s Chicago fire--eccentric arpeggios laid over a base of sustained phrases and aggressive harmonic combinations--and his voice roars as if he's trying to extinguish the flames of hell through sheer willpower. But the real impact comes from his lyrics: he doesn't even bother rhyming them half the time, preferring to let the imagery spill out in torrents. Intense, sometimes suicidal, his words nonetheless resonate with a power that's ultimately affirming; not incidentally, they often cite music as one of his primary reasons to go on living. Offstage, Smith's a soft-spoken man of gentle disposition. God knows what he does to transform himself into the haunted wretch who writes and sings those songs, but I hope he keeps doing it long enough for the general public to pick up on him. Saturday, 9 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 4270333 or 427-1190.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment