Chris Duarte is a unique voice in a batch of blues-rock guitarists who hail from down Texas way. His playing, while rooted in many of the same influences the other fellas have, is daring and subtle in ways that their playing isn’t. He’s not afraid to take chances, and his solos often bring a smile to your face because of their unique qualities.
The kick-off is “Do the Romp,” a Junior Kimbrough chestnut. It’s plain ol’ rough-and-rowdy blues rock. And Duarte’s solo follows suit. Downright nasty! Another tasty cover is one of my favorite Dylan tunes, “One More Cup of Coffee.” It starts as a quiet, almost folksy tune, with a vocal that’s as much spoken as it is sung. By the time he’s done, Duarte has transformed it into the tale we’re all used to with loud, very lyrical guitar playing. As far as originals, it’s tough to top the very scary “Last Night.” The lyric is backed up by the use of incredible dynamics that really drive home the point of the words. And his solo is about as good as it gets. “Mr. Neighbor” is one that should be required to lots of folks who live in the ‘burbs like I do. The instrumental “Like Eric” is exactly what you’d expect – a tribute to Eric Johnson that lets Duarte show off a creamy, singing tone that replaces his normal Strat sound.
As far as vocals go, his fit the music perfectly. Sometimes gruff, sometimes soft and caressing, usually perfect. Chris’ band is fine, too. John Jordan on bass, and Ed Miles on drums round out the trio. They work great together, and the trio setting also lets Chris drive the songs where they need to go.
If you’re not familiar with Duarte, check out this one or any of his older CDs. Also, check him out when he comes to your town. It’s a nice musical experience.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.