Byther “Smitty” Smith, long the house guitarist at the legendary Theresa’s Lounge on the south side, combines a fiery guitar attack with a voice that’s as intense and darkly emotional as any on the contemporary scene, and to which the minor key shuffles he favors bring a heightened sense of urgency. Although Smitty has been criticized for playing too long in the same vein, his obvious deep emotional commitment to the material makes even the occasional repetitiveness easier to take, and when he really gets into it there’s an ominous, almost primal intensity to his sound that can be spellbinding. Tonight and Saturday, U.S. Blues, 1446 N. Wells; 266-4978.

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