Chris Duarte Group - Vantage Point"(PR) When Sun Records founder Sam Phillips first heard Howlin' Wolf sing, he spoke the now famous words: "This is where the soul of man never dies." If Phillips had ever met Texas guitar great Chris Duarte he might have been moved to offer a similar insight into the eternity of the blues, Duarte's triumph over personal adversity and the firebrand passion to which this blues-rock guitar master brings to his music.
In a celebrity-driven industry rife with Faustian deals served up to the public via false advertising, Duarte has demonstrated that his soul – and his love of the blues – is not for sale. When listening to the Chris Duarte Band's new record, Vantage Point (Blues Bureau/Shrapnel), one senses Duarte's rejuvenated spirit, renewed creative breadth, an ability to tap into the blues' timelessness, and Duarte's rekindling of the youth exuberance he possessed during the making of his breakthrough debut Texas Sugar/Strat Magik.
The very title (Vantage Point) alludes to Duarte's newfound self-awareness, his shedding of some bad personal habits, and his ability to view life from a different perspective. "I think I'm playing better than ever," claims Duarte. "Working with producer Mike Varney has really opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities regarding melody and what to listen for to make a good record even better."
A self-described child of the Beatles generation, Duarte first picked up his brother's guitar when he was just 15 years old and learned the Fab Four's tunes via guitar-chord tablature texts. After quitting school at 16, Duarte moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Music City U.S.A. (a.k.a. Austin, Texas) with a great musical potential and an unchecked, naïve jazz "snobbishness."
"I was turning my nose up at it the blues, but when I did some serious investigation, suddenly I'm asking myself, 'Why don't I sound like that guy on the record?,'" Duarte says.
Duarte worked his butt off through constant practice, soaking up as much knowledge as he could from veteran blues cats, and pounding the boards in venues throughout Austin (and greater Texas). He witnessed the rise of Austin as a music Mecca; caught a young Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Continental Club when the future blues-rock icon was still finding his own voice; founded his own trio; and began playing 25 shows a month when fans and critics alike stood up and took notice.
Suddenly the Midwest and upper South were Duarte's breadbasket. He was on the road constantly and cut such critically acclaimed records as Texas Sugar/Strat Magik, Tailspin Headwhack and 2007's Blue Velocity.
Duarte's excitement is palpable when speaking about Vantage Point. "There are some moments on Vantage Point that hit me the same way as Texas Sugar," says Duarte. "I was a young player then, didn't have the vocabulary I do now, but there is a certain vibe about the tracks – then and now. I'm just really excited about and proud of this record."