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Kent Duchaine
@ 5 Corner's Saloon, 10/2/98
By Ray Stiles

Kent Duchaine
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp.
All rights reserved
If a guitar or an old beat up guitar case could talk, boy what a story they would tell about Kent Duchaine. Duchaine is definitely one of the "keepers of the flame." Traveling with his battered vintage National steel guitar that he calls "Leadbessie," Duchaine is one of the itinerant blues men who are helping to keep the raw Delta blues alive and well. Kent's guitar case was sitting open up on stage during his performance, as if he were out playing for coins on the street corner. Just looking at the inside of that case, covered with pictures of famous old blues musicians and stickers from his wide travels, you catch a glimpse of the vagabond musician's life Duchaine has led.

Duchaine's musical nomadic life started over 30 years ago right here in Minnesota and has taken him around the world (over 100,000 miles some years) playing the music he has devoted his life to. While in the Twin Cities he played with Kim Wilson before Wilson moved to Texas to form the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Kent hit the road for warmer climates. He honed his guitar skills playing with Lazy Bill Lucas, Boogie Woogie Red, Luther Tucker, Big Walter Horton, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Burns and Margie Evans. In the early 1990's he spent 3 years traveling and playing with the legendary bluesman Johnny Shines, "helping the older bluesman to re-discover his skills and reach a wider audience before their relationship was cut short by Johnny's death in 1992."

Duchaine's guitar playing is rooted in the styles of Robert Johnson, Lightning Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Bukka White and Elmore James. He has a ferociously wild slide technique that exudes a frenzied power and he can switch gears in the wink of an eye to play some beautiful acoustic melodies. His live shows are exuberant displays of delta music history interspersed with his own compositions that are remarkably good. Songs like the catchy "Cajun Queen" or "Edgemont Station" to the melodic "Friend Of Mine" display a fine blues writing talent. He displayed a light, lilting touch on the Guitar Slim song "The Things That I Used To Do" and really kicked up the dust with his slide on the Elmore James song "Shake Your Money Maker." He is one of the few musicians who can play the Robert Johnson songs with a flare that captures some of the emotional spirit of the original material. I only wish Kent would make it back to his hometown more than once a year.

Visit the Kent Duchaine web site.

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