Byther Smith | Buddy Guy’s Legends | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Byther Smith Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Wed., Dec. 10, 9:30 p.m. 2008

Byther Smith’s pungent, smoldering roar infuses his blues with hellfire. On the Chicago guitarist’s latest, Blues on the Moon (Delmark), recorded in summer 2007 at a south-side juke (full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes and recommended the venue), his vocal delivery transforms B.B. King’s jaunty “Rock Me Baby” into a fearsome demand for satisfaction and Sonny Boy Williamson’s mischievous “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” into a demonic threat. His own material is even more harrowing: On “If You Love Me” he bellows, “I don’t care how bad I mistreat you / If you love me, you won’t let me down,” and on “Give Up My Life for You” he proclaims, “Baby Jesus died / He died for this world / I am ‘Baby’—don’t let Him die for you, girl!” His music gets an extra whiff of nihilism from his relentless, razor-toned fretwork: he constructs his solos with a logic that makes even his most fevered creations sound diabolically premeditated. —David Whiteis

Price: $10

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