Is Chris Duarte The Greatest Living Guitarist?

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July 8, 2017

I have seen in concert or have listened to the recordings of most, if not all of the greatest rock and/or blues guitarists during the past forty-five years, and without a doubt one of the best is Chris Duarte. There have been comparisons made to Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix and there are several Duarte songs that have that SRV sound, but I believe it’s due more to a Texas blues shuffle thing going on than sounding like the man himself.

I have seen Duarte in concert five times and every show has been amazing. As someone who is not widely known, to put it mildly, I always saw him in very small bars and every time he puts on a two to three-hour show of amazing guitar playing for less than ten bucks. The only time I paid more for a ticket, and when he played less than two hours was when he opened for Gov’t Mule at Ludlow‘s, a bar in Columbus, Ohio, which cost fifteen dollars. These seven photographs were shot at Chelsie’s, a now defunct bar that was located in the Short North artisan district in Columbus on June 18, 1999. The price of the ticket was an incredible seven dollars. Needless to say, these photos were shot with film, and then the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer to be adjusted, framed and matted before being uploaded online.

For those who have yet to experience the fury of Chris’ playing, I would recommend starting with his 1994 album Texas Sugar/Strat Magik. However, on his 2003 album Romp, is his incredible version of the Bob Dylan song One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below). This song in itself is worth the price of the CD. It was while listening to this CD for the first time while setting up my computer for a new high-speed internet connection that I came up with the name of my new email address, that being DoTheRomp@SBCglobal.net, borrowing the title from the first song on the CD.

Do not take it from me as to the greatness of Chris Duarte, as on the guitarist’s website is a quote from Eddie Van Halen who, when asked during a 1989 Rock One Radio interview what’s it like to be greatest guitar player in the world, Van Halen replied “I don’t know, ask Chris Duarte.”

Do The Romp? Yes, indeed!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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Muddy Waters #25A, 77A, 77B, 52A, 21C & 21B

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January 21, 2017

McKinley Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters) was born on April 4, 1913 in Jug’s Corner, Mississippi. Although he first began playing the blues on harmonica, by age 17 Muddy was playing local parties and juke joints on acoustic guitar. In 1940, Waters moved to Chicago for the first time, but soon returned home. During 1943, he returned to Chicago for good. In 1945, Muddy was given his first electric guitar from his uncle, Joe Grant, and the rest as they say is history. In 1950, Muddy recorded Rollin’ Stone, a song one decade later five young white, English lads would take as the name of the band, who would become the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones. Over the years, Waters would have as his backing band some of the most respected sidemen in blues history, including Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

In 1977, Waters recorded Hard Again, a comeback album of sorts that featured Johnny Winters on guitar, producer and miscellaneous screaming. The first song on the album is a blistering, powerful remake of his 1955 classic, Mannish Boy. For anyone not familiar with the music of Mr. Waters, this is the album to start with. If I could only own twelve albums, and what a hardship that would be, however this would definitely be one.

These photos were shot at a very small bar on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and as such, the lighting was not very conducive to someone wanting to photograph arguably the greatest bluesman of all-time. As a matter of fact, of the two or three rolls of film I shot that night, only one print actually looked worthy of posting on my blog. All others came back underdeveloped. With the use of my computer, I was able to adjust both the color and contrast levels to make them presentable. The one print that looked halfway decent did not even make the final cut to this post. Instead of shooting only two or three rolls of thirty-six exposure film that night, if I had a digital camera back then, I most likely would have shot a thousand photos that night, if not more.

I have always thought the location of this show was Stache’s & Little Brothers. However, when doing some research, it seems the location was a place called High Street Brewing Company, but this might be the same locale, only under a different name. The date of the show was either Sunday February 8, 1981 or Tuesday November 3, 1981, as it seems that Waters played at this bar twice during that year.

Muddy Waters passed away in Chicago on April 30, 1983. The blues are rock and roll and Muddy Waters is the blues!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Marshall Tucker Band #52C, 99B, 38B, 13C, 69C, 57C, 25B, 44B, 63B, 77C, 82C & 52D

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April 25, 2015

The Marshall Tucker Band is a southern rock band originating from Spartanburg, South Carolina that blends country, blues and rock & roll into their own unique style of music. Though the band still continues playing and recording to this day, their heyday was the 1970s. Marshall Tucker took its name from a blind piano tuner who had rented the warehouse space prior to the band renting it for rehearsals and his name was inscribed on the warehouse key.

The original lineup was Doug Gray on lead vocals, Toy Caldwell (1947-1993) on lead guitar and vocals, George McCorkle (1946-2007) on rhythm guitar, Tommy Caldwell (1949-1980) on bass guitar, Jerry Eubanks on flute & saxophone and Paul Riddle on drums. Toy Caldwell was a much overlooked guitar player and deserves recognition as one of the greatest guitarists in all of rock & roll history. Marshall Tucker’s 1974 double album Where We All Belong, which was one-half studio and the other half live recordings, to me is the band’s true masterpiece, and is a must have album for any fan of this musical genre. If I could own only a dozen albums (and what a curse that would be), this surely would be one.

These photos were shot at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio on January 31, 1981. The cost of the ticket was an astonishing $8.50. Columbus, Ohio country-rockers McGuffey Lane was the opening act. Taken that long ago, the photos were obviously shot on film. The 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer, where some digital adjusting was made to each print, before they were digitally matted and framed.

Steven H. Spring

Henry Paul Band #13B, 7C, 46B, 23B, 43B, 26C, 63C, 88C & 73B

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February 14, 2014

Henry Paul formed the Henry Paul Band in 1978 after leaving the Outlaws the previous year. While a member of the Outlaws from 1972 to 1977, the band released its first three albums: 1975’s Outlaws, 1976’s Lady In Waiting and Hurry Sundown in 1977.

The Henry Paul Band released three albums: Grey Ghost in 1979, Feel The Heat in 1980 and Anytime in 1981. The title track on their debut album was a tribute to Ronnie Van Zant and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 1982, Paul released the eponymously titled Henry Paul album. From 1983 to 1986, the guitarist and vocalist rejoined the Outlaws.

During 1992, Henry formed the country band BlackHawk, which has released seven studio albums over the years, including their latest, Brothers Of The Southland, in 2014. During this same time period, Paul has played on and off with the Outlaws. With the 2007 death of founding Outlaw guitarist Hughie Thomasson, Henry has assumed leadership of the band.

These photographs were shot on August 25, 1980 at the Agora in Columbus, Ohio, across the street from the Ohio State University campus. The Agora, which bills itself as America’s longest continually running rock club first opened as the State Theater in 1923. It was converted into the Agora Ballroom in 1970 with a seating capacity of 1,700, although seating is a misnomer as there are no seats down front by the stage. The ballroom was purchased by PromoWest in 1984 and changed the name to the Newport Music Club.

The price of a ticket to this show was $4.50.

Steven H. Spring

Rosie #7C, 17C, 39B, 33B, 12B, 19C, 22C, 43B & 26C

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January 31, 2015

Rosie was a rock band from Columbus, Ohio founded by guitarist Mark Chatfield during 1980. The band released three albums, the self-titled Rosie in 1981, Precious Metal in 1982 and Rosie Live in 1988. Chatfield is best known to central Ohio rockers of my generation as the lead guitarist for the band The Godz. From 1983 until 2011, Chatfield played both rhythm and lead guitar in Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.

I came home from Seattle on leave from the Navy sometime during 1978, and all people were talking about were The Godz, who released two albums, 1978’s self-titled The Godz (which was produced by Don Brewer, drummer for Grand Funk Railroad) and Nothing Is Sacred in 1979 during their original incarnation. By the time I was honorably discharged in October of 1979, the band had broken up. However, led by bassist and vocalist Eric Moore, The Godz are still playing and releasing albums.

Their biggest radio hit was Gotta Keep A-Runnin’ off their debut album. However, to Columbus rockers they were most famous for their song 714 (pronounced as 7-1-4, not 7-14), off Nothing Is Sacred, which featured the chorus line “feelin’ fine on 714s,” a reference to Quaaludes, which were then marketed as Rorer 714. I am told that the band had a fondness for ‘ludes while performing. Not that I am comparing the music of Led Zeppelin to The Godz, but Robert Plant has been quoted as saying the only reason Zeppelin kept a doctor around was to prescribe Quaaludes.

These photographs were shot at the Agora, across the street from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, most likely around 1980 or ‘81 when Rosie opened for the Johnny Van Zant Band. As the opening act, the lighting for Rosie wasn’t all that great, as most every opening act will surely attest. Some of the original 4×6 photos that I scanned are pretty crappy looking. However, thanks to modern digital photography software, these photos do not look all that bad.

Steven H. Spring

The Outlaws #17B, 23C, 33B, 104B, 19C, 82B, 7C, 36C, 101C, 79B, 45C, 21C, 66C, 113B & 124C

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January 18, 2015

The Outlaws are an American southern-rock band first formed in Tampa, Florida in 1967.  Although still performing, the group’s heyday was during the 1970s.  Blending country and rock and roll, the band released their self-titled debut album in 1975, which included a nearly ten minute long closing number, Green Grass & High Tides.  Lady In Waiting followed during 1976 and Hurry Sundown in 1977.

In 1978, the Outlaws released a live double album Bring It Back Alive, which featured a twenty-one minute workhorse of Green Grass & High Tides.  Due to a printing error, early copies of both cassettes and 8-tracks labeled the album as Bring ‘Em Back Alive.  Buying a cassette of this album in the ship’s store aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) when it was first released, I never knew the correct name of the album until researching band information for this post.  I bought a vinyl copy of the album not long after I got out of the Navy in 1979, but never noticed the discrepancy.  I saw the band open for the Rolling Stones in Anaheim Stadium, in Los Angeles on July 24, 1978.  The stadium featured a large clock and I remember timing Green Grass & High Tides at a little more than twenty-five minutes.  The price of the ticket was $12.50.  Sadly, original members Hughie Thomasson and Frank O’Keefe, along with long-time member Billy Jones have passed away.

These photographs were shot from the fifth row at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio on February 22, 1980 during the band’s 1980/81 tour in support of their 1980 album Ghost Riders.  The lineup for this show was: Hughie Thomasson, Billy Jones and Akron, Ohio native Freddie Salem on guitar & vocals, Rick Cua on bass & vocals and David Dix on drums.  The price of the ticket was $8.00.  One wonders if Mr. Thomasson was really an Ohio State fan, or was he merely pandering to the Buckeye faithful?

Enlarging these photographs greatly in order to edit them, I noticed something peculiar on photo number 101C that I had never noticed before.  What caught my eye was the very large gap on Freddie’s Les Paul between the bottom two strings.  For non-pickers, that would be the top two on his neck.  I thought, that’s an awful wide gap between the low “E” and the “A” strings.  Then I discovered the reason for the gap.  Freddie had broken his “A” string, which you can see hanging down from the headstock.

One thing I learned how to do during this concert was to load four or five rolls of film into my camera standing on the arm rests of my seat, in the dark all the while the row of seats and probably the entire auditorium was swaying to the beat of the Florida Guitar Army, which when one thinks about it is probably not exactly an easy feat to accomplish.

Shot long ago, these photos were obviously shot on film. The 4×6 prints were then scanned onto my computer, at which time some digital adjustment was made to both the color and brightness/darkness levels. Due to the scanning process, some sharpness was lost, and as such, the images I look at online do not do justice to the original 4×6 prints. Some day, I plan to buy a film negative scanner, which hopefully will improve to overall quality of any older photo that I post online.

Steven H. Spring

Is Chris Duarte The World’s Greatest Living Guitarist?

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May 18, 2014

I have seen in concert or have listened to the recordings of most, if not all of the greatest rock and/or blues guitarists during the past forty years, and without a doubt one of the best is Austin, Texas-based Chris Duarte. There have been comparisons made to Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix and there are several Duarte songs that have that SRV sound, but I believe it’s due more to a Texas blues shuffle thing going on than sounding like the man himself.

I have seen Duarte in concert five times and every show has been amazing. As someone who is not widely known, to put it mildly, I always saw him in very small bars and every time he puts on a two to three-hour show of amazing guitar playing for less than ten bucks. The only time I paid more for a ticket, and when he played less than two hours was when he opened for Gov’t Mule, which cost fifteen dollars. These ten photographs were shot at Chelsie’s, a now defunct bar that was located in the Short North artisan district in Columbus, Ohio on January 15, 1999. Needless to say, these photos were shot with film, and then the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer to be adjusted, framed and matted before being uploaded online.

For those who have yet to experience the fury of Chris’ playing, I would recommend starting with his 1994 album Texas Sugar/Strat Magik. However, on his 2003 album Romp, is his incredible version of the Bob Dylan song One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below). This song in itself is worth the price of the CD. It was while listening to this CD for the first time while setting up my computer for a new high-speed internet connection that I came up with the name of my new email address, that being DoTheRomp@SBCglobal.net, borrowing the title of the first song on this CD.

Do not take it from me as to the greatness of Chris Duarte, as on the guitarist’s website is a quote from Eddie Van Halen who, when asked during a 1989 Rock One Radio interview what’s it like to be greatest guitar player in the world, Van Halen replied “I don’t know, ask Chris Duarte.”

Do The Romp? Yes, indeed!

Steven H. Spring