Byther Smith & The Night Riders
@ The Blues Saloon, September 7, 1996

Once again veteran Chicago blues man Byther Smith entertained us at the Blues Saloon (he was here in April). It's nice Chicago isn't that far away so we get to see some of Chicago's modern blues players. Byther Smith, a cousin of J.B. Lenior, is one of those gritty Chicago blues players that has paid his dues over the past 30 years playing in small smoke filled bar rooms. I really enjoy his down home humor and great guitar playing. Half way through the first set he said now he was going to play some "jazz". He was obviously kidding as he launched into the Elmore James classic Talk To Your Daughter. Byther, if that's what you call jazz, you can keep playing it all night long.

Smith's guitar playing tends to take on some of the style of the artist whose song he is playing. He has a wicked vibrato like B.B. King that is a joy to watch and listen to. He did several of the standards like The Thrill Is Gone and Got My Mojo Working as well as his original songs -- many of which are found on his CD's I'm A Mad Man, Housefire (both on Rounder) and Mississippi Kid (Delmark).

Byther left his Monticello, Mississippi home at age 16 and ended up in Chicago in the early 60's backing up the likes of Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, J.B. Lenoir, Robert Lockwood, Junior Wells, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker. To say he has paid his blues dues is an understatement. It's great to see him leading his own band, singing more of his own songs and producing some nice Chicago style blues CD's.

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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