Byther Smith | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Byther Smith 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Byther Smith's emotionally intense, somewhat elemental blues style reflects the hardscrabble life he's led. Born in Monticello, Mississippi, in 1932, he lost both his parents when he was still a toddler, and shortly thereafter one of his sisters died in a fire. As a young man he boxed and did manual labor, but once he moved to Chicago in 1957, he hit the south-side blues circuit and soon started recording. In the mid-80s he toured overseas for the first time, and 1988's Housefire (Razor) expanded his international reputation. He's in a relatively lighthearted mood on parts of his latest, Throw Away the Book (Black & Tan), tweaking and reinventing other musicians' themes. "Running to New Orleans," set to the defining riff of the Stones' "Miss You," also reprises the string-shiver sound of Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)"; "Things I Used to Do" grafts a boisterous new melody and rhythm onto Guitar Slim's lyrics; "I Didn't Get None" rehabs a Willie Mabon theme; and the jaunty "Mean Old Daddy" borrows ideas from Bill Doggett's "Hold It" and Jody Williams's "Hideout." "The Man Wants Me Dead," a remake of a Smith original that first appeared on Housefire, is a nightmarish blast of paranoia, and "Never Stopped Loving You," with Smith's voice alternately quavering and choking with anguish, sounds like a dispatch from the innermost circles of hell. The Linsey Alexander Band opens. Friday 15, 9:30 PM, Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted, 773-477-4646, $15. See also Saturday.

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  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Wet Cash Dark Tower Comics
July 28
Galleries & Museums
FÊTE GALANTE Heaven Gallery
September 18

Popular Stories