After a long absence, the Chris Duarte Group finally returned to Tampa on a hot humid night in Florida. A good crowd filled Skippers Smoke House and they were very enthusiastic and many crowded around the stage to watch Duarte in action. Skippers is a funky outdoor venue, part seafood restaurant, part blues club with plenty of space to view the stage.
Bass player John Jordan had returned to the group in February, to the delight of most of his long time fans and with new drummer Ed XXXX in place, proceeded to cover a wide range of musical styles from heavy blues/rock, grinding Texas blues, Hendrix style songs, Santana and Eric Johnson influenced songs, to John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk jazz style instrumental numbers along with some experimental music. Chris
played most of the fan favorites, 'Shiloh', 'My Way Down', "Cleo' and 'Big Legged Woman'. It's not hard to figure out which ones are the fan favorites as fans yelled out songs they wanted to hear most of the night.
Chris also played several new songs and/or songs in progress intermixed in the set along with a couple that are rarely heard. One of the new songs is called 'Last Night' which tells a story about meeting the devil and rejecting his temptations. This was done in a mixture of styles...Jim Morrison vocally with mixtures of Hendrix musically.
Another old song rarely heard was 'Like Eric' which is an instrumental inspired by Eric Johnson.
Chris Duarte is an emotional player who plays with an intensity that you rarely see on stage. He puts his heart and soul into his music. Often his experiences are intertwined within songs and his intensity reaches a level that the audience can't fail to recognize. I think this is one of the reasons his fans are so rabid in their appreciation.
The bottom line: If the Chris Duarte Group is playing in your area. Do go out and see them. You won't be disappointed!
Opening act Damon Fowler is one of the bright spots in the Tampa Bay area. He is an excellent player and singer who's understanding of the traditions and style of the blues stands out in his playing and singing. His short 45 minute set included rock & roll, roots blues music both original and traditional, along with some great playing on both guitar
and lap steel. His set was impressive and very well received by the audience. He is another artist that I highly recommend seeing whenever he is in your area.
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