Little Smokey Smothers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Little Smokey Smothers 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

If ever a musician personified what's happened to classic postwar Chicago blues since 60s, it's Abe "Little Smokey" Smothers. He's been playing in Chicago, off and on, since 1956, including a two-year stint with Howlin' Wolf. Endowed with a rock-solid rhythmic sense and a tone that modulates from a sublime murmur to a balls-out Saturday night scream, Smothers consistently comes up with straight-ahead licks that are extroverted enough to rock any contemporary house to its rafters. Yet he seems somehow unable to expand his reputation beyond a handful of in-the-know aficionados. These days tasteful players like Smothers who carry on a traditional style because of the eloquence and subtleties it encourages, not because it's trendy to become born-again retrograde all too often can't get heard. Here's hoping that his appearance on Elvin Bishop's new release will expose him to a wider audience, although it's infuriating to think that playing on a pop bluesman's record is still what it takes for such an exemplary artist to finally get his due. Friday and Saturday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories