By Sam Parvin
Chris Duarte’s latest album, 396, is funky from the first guitar
lick. This guy can really wail, both
instrumentally and vocally, and his band, Bluestone Co., rocks so hard you’d
think they were a bunch of bayou boys with blues in their blood. There are obvious jazz, rock 'n' roll, blues,
and even zydeco influences in his music; the subjects of his songs combine
classic blues ideas like drivin’ fast down a dirt road with Chris’s life
experiences, with lyrics like “I’m going back Chattahoochee side.”
While blues music can be the most simple genre to play
(three chord, B-side Blues style) or the most difficult, Duarte chooses the
opening track, “Back In Town,” hits you like a tequila hangover and really does
say “HEY! I’m BAAACK!” Duarte’s energy is impressive, and it makes me
anxious to see if he can keep that up throughout a live show. “396,” the
album’s title track, could only be sung by a justifiable bad-ass, with lyrics
like “running wide open, flyin’ on the track, nothing’s gonna stop me in my
“Give It Back To Me” opens with a funky jam, complete with a
danceable bass line and electrifying guitar riffs. We get a little of
Duarte’s San Antonio roots with the Texas twang in “Angelina,” and the album’s
finale, “H2k3,” sounds like the final level of an impossible-to-beat videogame
- crazy fast bass moves and several tempo changes later.
Duarte has been playing music since an extremely early age,
and he jump-started his music career at 15. Now decades down the road, Chris Duarte Group continues to play nearly
200 shows a year. His guitar inventory
is impressive, from his 1963 Stratocaster (Chris was born the same year) to his
Les Paul Emperor, but the equipment is just a bonus; the man could play a bowl
rigged with fishing line and still rock hard.
Final note: If you
don’t cut loose to this music, I’m afraid there’s no hope for you.
Chris Duarte plays Smith's Olde Bar on February 18. Tickets are on sale now at Ticket Alternative.