Gig: Kent Duchaine – Kings Head, Carlisle – 14 Sep 2011

Posted on: Monday, Sep 12, 2011

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Kent Duchaine and Leadbessie his faithful national steel guitar play the Kings Head hostelry in Carlisle on Wednesday 14th September at 8.00. He’s a cracking guitarist and tells a mean story as well.

Kent DuChaine Biography

At the young age of six, Kent DuChaine learned to play the ukulele from his father. At 13, after getting his first electric guitar, he and a few of his buddies formed a garage band in his hometown of Wayzata, Minnesota. They performed at school functions and private parties, mostly playing popular music of the time. After reading the liner notes of an Eric Clapton album, DuChaine checked out a Robert Johnson album from the local library. So taken back by Johnson’s music he literally wore the album out listening to it. He never looked back. The music of the Mississippi Delta stole his heart. He immersed himself in the music of Johnson, Muddy Waters, Lightening Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Bukka White and Elmore James.

DuChaine learned to play slide guitar in 1969. One year later he opened for slide guitar genius Bukka White. From 1972 – 1975 DuChaine joined a band with Kim Wilson, of the present day Fabulous Thunderbirds. The band backed up blues greats Fenton Robinson, Boogie Woogie Red, Luther Tucker, Humbert Sumlin, and Eddie Burns. As the reputation of the band spread, legendary songwriter and performer Willie Dixon embraced them. Dixon arranged a recording contract and a concert sharing the bill with Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, the Howling Wolf and Margie Evans.

In 1979 DuChaine found his beloved “Leadbessie.” She’s a beat-up 1934 National Steel Guitar kitted out with extra heavy strings to cope with his ferociously powerful style. Deciding to go solo in 1982, he took “Leadbessie” on the road, finally settling in the southeastern United States to be closer to the roots of the music he loved.

DuChaine met and established a partnership with legendary blues man Johnny Shines in 1989. They recorded Back to the Country with harmonica great Snooky Pryor. They were honored with the coveted WC Handy Award for Best Country Blues Album. In 1991, the Smithsonian Institute honored the King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson. DuChaine and Shines were among the privileged few that were invited to perform at this prestigious 25th annual Festival of American Folklife. The end result was the Grammy nominated album Roots of Rhythm and Blues: A Tribute to the Robert Johnson Era recorded by Sony/Columbia.

DuChaine and Shines performed over 200 shows together traveling all over North America, all the while DuChaine continued his solo career. Their relationship was cut short by Shines’ death in April 1992.

DuChaine, determined more than ever to spread the blues, began to perform in Europe and Scandinavia. He now has six albums under his belt, 44 plus tours overseas, and still manages to perform all over North America. He was honored by the London Times naming him “one of the five best concerts in the UK.” When not thrilling music lovers with authentic Delta Blues, Urban Blues and his original music, he’s relaxing at home in beautiful South Georgia with his wife, their son Miles, the cats, and Beau, the German Shepherd.

He reminds me of a young Muddy Waters. (Willie Dixon, 1975)

His playing takes me back to my earlier days. (Johnny Shines, 1990)

He is one of the few players who can really play Robert Johnson Material with conviction and power. (Robert Tilling – Blueprint M

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