Sound Check | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Sound Check

While other high-school teens are worrying about zits and agonizing over getting their driver's licenses, Pembroke Pines blues guitarist and vocalist Josh Smith is recording CDs -- three so far. "Age doesn't matter," says the eighteen-year-old Smith. "I just play all kinds of blues music, so people of any age can relate. We leave room for every type -- traditional, jazzy, swing, Chicago -- that's our sound."

When he was fourteen, Smith recorded and released his debut effort with a group called the Rhino Cats -- the ten-song Born Under a Blue Sign. A year later in 1995, Smith and the Rhino Cats issued the ten-song Woodsheddin'; it was recorded live during a two-day stint at Fort Lauderdale's Musicians Exchange. His most recent CD, this year's eleven-song Too Damn Cold, was cut with the Frost (bassist Mike Nadaoka from the Rhino Cats and drummer Al Rich).

On Cold, Smith conjures a swirly, Hendrix-inspired intro on the funky title track, delivers an emotionally charged cover of Albert Collins' "Lights Are on, but Nobody's Home," and plays slide guitar on "32 Degrees." But the track that best showcases Smith's prodigious talent is the edgy "Hard World," which combines a traditional frog-in-the-throat blues vocal with remarkable fretwork.

In addition to admiring Hendrix, Smith also looks up to blues guitarist-singer B.B. King, whom he recently met. "He was just the sweetest man," notes Smith. "I got on his bus, we sat at a table together in the back, and he signed my guitar after I signed a copy of my new CD for him. It was great."

When quizzed about college plans, Smith says, "Not right now. I'm having too much fun. I'm just going for it." Josh Smith and the Frost go for it at Ray's Downtown Blues this Friday and Saturday.