Byther Smith performing at Shepherd College

May 27, 1998

Byther Smith

Byther "Smitty" Smith, the 66-year-old Mississippi-born bluesman has lived the blues. He'll play his Chicago-style version Friday, May 29, at 8 p.m. at Shepherd College's Storer Ballroom in the College Center.

Smith's mother died in childbirth, his father six months later and he lost a sister in a house fire, an experience he translated into a song and album - "Housefire" - years later.

Raised by an aunt and uncle on a farm, Smith left at 15 to work construction and try his luck as a boxer throughout the South. He learned upright bass and played with a country and Western rodeo band.


At the encouragement of his cousin, Chicago bluesman J.B. Lenoir, Smith moved to the windy city in 1956 and played with a number of noted artists, including Lenoir, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Otis Rush.

To support his family and the college educations of his six daughters, Smith worked as a machinist in a box factory for 25 years. Since his 1995 retirement, Smith devotes more time to music and touring. His most recent recording on the Delmark label is "All Night Long."

The concert is presented by Harpers Ferry Historical Association, Jefferson County Branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Shepherd College. Proceeds will benefit African-American historical interpretation at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, according to event coordinator Todd Bolton.

Bolton says Smith has a "great voice and is an excellent guitarist" and compares his style to that of Rush.

Smith will be backed by Hagerstown-based blues quartet 2Blue Ensemble, featuring Pete Lancaster, Carl Disque and Alan Mason, with Doug Crowley standing in on bass for Arnie Helmick.

- Kate Coleman, Staff Writer


Byther Smith in concert

Where: Storer Ballroom in the College Center, Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, W.Va.

When: Friday, May 29, 8 p.m.

Tickets: In advance, $12 for adults, $10 for students and children; $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through Harpers Ferry Historical Association.

For information: Call 1-304-535-6881 or 1-800-821-5206.

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