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Chris Duarte

Friday, September 26, at Wilbert's.

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Chris Duarte
  • Chris Duarte

Line up the key details -- Texas, Stratocaster, big-balls blues-rock, ever-present echoes of Hendrix -- and you might rightly expect a Stevie Ray clone. But while Chris Duarte knows his way around a Lone Star shuffle and possesses moves and chops sure to please a crowd of SRV devotees, the 40-year-old Austin resident spends as much time busting out of the blues-rock mold as he does thriving within it. Recognized as a world-class blues player, surpassed only by Clapton, Buddy Guy, and B.B. in Guitar Player's 1995 awards, Duarte has since made deliberate moves into other musical territory.

A sampling of Duarte's discography plays this out. His 1994 debut, Texas Sugar/Strat Magik, laid out his Texas credentials. While no doubt connected to the SRV tradition, Duarte's development over later recordings parallels that of Jeff Beck, where the player's allegiance is to his own inventive instincts, rather than to any one genre. Duarte has flirted with rhythm loops and drum machines, and explored jazzy regions and psychedelia while maintaining his blues connection. Songwriting matters, too: Duarte's originals are frequently non-blues affairs; they've been downright Beatlesque on a couple of occasions, and they typically sound like more than just a way to frame multiple guitar choruses. His recently released Romp is imbued with much of the future/primitive energy associated with the Fat Possum/Mississippi scene. The disc is big on instrumentals and should keep his guitarslinger credentials in order. Of course, with guitarslingers, it's all about the live show.

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