Dispatches from the 2013
"My Soul Alone" Tour

by Chris Duarte



8/3/13

Hey Everybody, here's some notes from the road halfway through our big tour...

New Orleans, Louisiana (7/23): just probably the most exotic vibe of any city in America. So much charm and lots still going on there in a truly unique musical city. Still love to play there and even though the turnout was light at our show at the Rock n' Bowl, I want to thank everybody that was there for the show (and Blake who drove all the way from Pensacola, Florida). It's the dedication of my fans that drives me to always play with my all at every show.
Houston, Texas (7/24): first thing you notice is the temperature going up and sure enough it was hot! One of my faves there in Houston, Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, set in an eclectic neighborhood and with a great vibe going on in the club. That show was a real power-packer! Lots of fun and lots of old friends and fans showed up. Really great time!
San Antonio, Texas (7/25): my hometown certainly didn't disappoint and my old high school friends and family brought out all the stops! The show was special and then reconnecting with all my family after the show was a treat, too. San Antone', always special to me!
Midland, Texas (7/26): We went out into West Texas and the first thing you notice is that the speed limits are some of the highest in the U.S. (which makes it convenient cuz' you can zip around a lot better! Gas goes quick, though - and stay on your toes while driving cuz' you're going fast! Be safe people!) Midland's blues festival was a blast and we got to see some great acts such as The Peterson Brothers, a young guitar and bass combo that's starting to get a lot of attention and rightfully so. Watch out for these kids as they develop their styles in the coming years, they were just packed with tons of natural musicality. Another special treat at the festival was me hookin' up with Michael Williams, Junior Medlow's son. It has been a blast seeing Michael grow as a musician and watch him gain more and more attention for the last two years. He's landed some good opening slots and we got to play two songs together, "Red Fire" and an old Junior Medlow song I used to play called "Hey, Baby". It sure was a lot a fun and hopefully Mike and I will hook up again later on down the line somewhere. Also seeing his mom Jody and sister Camille was a real stunner, too! I hadn't seen them in a long time and it was good to talk with them.
San Angelo, Texas (7/27): Sealy Flats is one of our favorite places to play on the planet. Rod runs that place great and is very artist friendly. Rod has really built up a great thing there in San Angelo and to tell you the truth San Angelo reminds me of a sleepy Austin from way back. A great artist contingency and the city is really starting to beautify itself. Our show had a full house and the place rocked that night!
Austin, Texas (7/28): an early show, 3 p.m., and I was a bit nervous about how the attendance would be so early. Well I really underestimated myself there! We had a great crowd and I love playing there at the Saxon Pub. Can't tell you how much I still love that town, even with all the changes that have happened since I've been gone. It's still got a piece of me in it. The show was fun and the apre-gig was great, too.
Corpus Christi, Texas (7/29): The Executive Surf Club stepped up and gave me this gig on short notice and what could I say, if I get a chance to play more I'm there! Saw a lot of old fans and friends and I really have to thank John Cortez for opening up the show and helping to get the word out in Corpus. Another great time there and the warm feelings and friendships were great.
Dallas, Texas (7/31): Poor David's Pub, it's moved to a bigger and different location but the vibe is still the same. Music is king there and with Carlos still on the mixing board you can't help but feel all the special old times come back. This was another short-notice gig but the people still came out and represented to make the show a rocking good time. Jimmy Adcock opened up and his fan base was energetic and enthusiastic for both acts. Jimmy and I got up at the end of the show and we were cuttin' heads up there. Couldn't have done this show without Jimmy and his help in dragging out the peeps for us to play to.
Abilene, Texas (8/1): Well it's a hot day in Texas and we're outside for this one. Abilene, the Jewel of West Texas as I refer to it, because it's the people that make this town shine for me! We had a gig put on by Kent's Harley Davidson and by the time the sun went down there was close to over a thousand people there in the audience. Saw some old friends there and I've got a long history with Abilene and I'm pleased to report the town is just as great as it's always been. Love you Abilene and Texas, hopefully I won't be gone so long for the next show.
Topeka, Kansas (8/2): A long drive and early wake up but it wasn't so bad. Just another day in the office for CDG! The club was Uncle Bo's and it's been awhile since I've been here too, last time was with Bluestone. Bringing my guys for this gig was a real muscular show cuz' we were determined to play the asphalt from the long drive out of us! Lots of longtime fans and enthusiastic energy all the way around.

So far this is shaping up to be a good tour. We've got a long way to go but as always I look forward to each show and the new experiences they bring. Thank you to everyone that came and to those who'll be out there for the future dates. I will play with everything I've got for every gig cuz' I know that's why I've been able to hold your attention and dedication for all these years. Love you all!

- Chris Duarte


8/19/13

Here I am again y'all...

I know, I hear it all the time from my press and PR people that I need to blog more. I agree! Plus, how hard can it be? You just jump on and start to type, make a stream-of-consciousness type thing and try to throw in events that have happened and 'bam' you got it. I know, I know, I know, but it's just not that easy (and I can even type with all my fingers and don't have to look at my hands - a legacy from my second marriage). We played a club in Minot, North Dakota, before heading to Canada and had a great time up there. I look forward to our return trip in the area. Heading to Canada, we cruised through the countryside of North Dakota which is so serene with its big sky. All the wheat fields, a welcome relief to all the corn I'm used to seeing on my travels in the Midwest, made me reminisce how America used to be the wheat producer of the world. Now I think we've slipped back to 5th or even further back. We played Canada for the second time on this tour and as usual it was a blast. I really bemoan myself for being gone and absent for so long to the wonderful Canadian people. I'm hoping this will now turn the tides and I'll be going up there with increased frequency. All the festivals were great and the promoters took very good care of us. I know most of us don't get up that far in the contiguous U.S., but they're just as great of music fans as the rest of us in the lower 48. The Midwest is like my usual stomping grounds and I'm so known in the area that it always feels like family when I get into Cedar Rapids and Sioux City in Iowa and Sioux Falls in South Dakota. I love all the old friends I've made over the years and I shall endeavor to be there at least once every year. Uncle Bo's in Topeka, Kansas, was fun, too. The band had a blast and it's cool to leave the stage and just go to your room in the hotel where the club is located. Not the closest rooms from stage-to-room but good enough. That honor goes to The Ranger Lounge, a club we used to play years ago in Laramie, Wyoming. My room there was literally 20 to 30 feet from the stage if even that far. Had many a good gig there and it's where I met ol' Six Fingers - the fastest most-blazing guitarist in the area! Luv ya, Man! After leaving Manitoba, Canada, we ventured into Minnesota for a two day rest. Then we did a show at The Trempealeau Hotel in Trempealeau, Wisconsin, and what a jewel of a place that is. The hotel/music venue is settled along the banks of the upper Mississippi and it's gorgeous! There's an outside stage and people come and bring chairs and sit in a small grass field. The weather was perfect and you can't ask for a more inspiring venue to play. A really special place, The Trempealeau Hotel. Look it up! I played in Burlington, Iowa at a club called The Washington. It was the reopening of this venue and the locals were so glad to now have a place that will bring in national touring acts. Well-deserved for the people there and a tip of the hat goes towards the owners for giving this to the people. I hope the crowds show up and support the venue so more acts can play there. At Shank Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we shared the stage with Poppa Chubby and he was a blast! He's sounding really good and his show is a lot of fun. Great band and they are a fun hang. Go check him out if he comes in your area, you'll be thoroughly entertained. Callahan's in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills has always been a favorite of mine. The people of Detroit are some of my most loved fans and they feel like family to me too! I Love you Detroit!!! I have fans come over across the bridge from Windsor, Canada, and I just lump them in with Detroit cuz' I love them the same too! The gig was fun and even though the town has got it's struggles right now I hope Callahan's can weather the storm and survive. I'm with you Detroit! In Buffalo, New York, we played at the world famous Tralf Music Hall. The staff was topnotch and the venue lives up to it's reputation. It has a great stage and we had a good turnout for being gone for so long. We had Jeff Fretterman open up for us and he did the job of warming the crowd up for us. So that brings me back to Donnacona, Quebec in Canada. We had a looong drive that day, close to 500 miles, but we had a great time. Yannick was extra special to us and the festival, though small, was well coordinated with great efficiency. Now we're embarking on the last leg of this 5-week tour. It's been over 7,000 miles so far and the van is holding up nicely! She should pass 500,000 miles next year and I couldn't be more proud of how she's holding up. As long as I crawl under her and give her that scheduled preventive maintenance I'm hoping she'll give me a few more years of good touring out there so I can continue to see my family of fans who've been so good to me all through the years! I am truly grateful for every single one of you and I will never ever take you for granted. I will play to the best of my ability at every show and I don't care if there's 10,000 or just one of you, you're going to get me full on 100% - that's a promise! I am the luckiest man in the world to have you as fans of my music. Thank you!

- Chris Duarte


9/18/13

Hey everybody, thanks for reading this!
I just want to share some reflections from our recent tour. Still feeling the love from the fans on the road following the CDG bus and showing up for a string of shows in succession (you know who you are and I love you immeasurably). When I see you all out there night after night, you push me to stretch my creative ideas. Thank you for driving the miles and watching my shows!

We played the legendary Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 12th and had a table of Vietnam vets come out to my show. There might've been a function or gathering going on for them, but I was glad they came down to my show. After the second set one of them came up to me as I was selling merch off the stage and told me how our playing was taking them back and bringing on a bunch of fond memories long since filed away. With the combination of them having a reunion and our music pumping out, he was in tears telling me how much fun they were having. Moments like this stick with me for a long, long, time. I went over and took a picture with them and talked with each of them for a short moment. Those guys made me feel really lucky to be doing what I'm doing; moving people's emotions and leaving a smile on their face. The real kicker was how the entire staff was rotating in shifts from other parts of the building so that they all got a chance to see us play! When the staff is hip to y'all, you know you're doing something right.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium in Louisville, Kentucky. I gotta' admit, the name was a bit kitschy and we were a bit taken aback by its size. Turns out the GT Emporium is a multi-roomed complex where many national acts have played the big room (the room we were in) and with other rooms for smaller bands or karaoke and a bar. The staff was great and the sound system was more than fun. Our opening band was fronted by longtime friend and fan Greg Gaddis and his band more than impressed me. Greg is a modern day 'Do-it-All' guy. He built his own house, repairs his automobiles, fixes electronics - all while raising his boy Cody into a fine young man and keeping his wife Diane happy and his marriage rocking for almost 20 years. When I grow up I want to be Greg! Greg doesn't do anything half-ass in his life and he certainly didn't do it half-ass in his band. The songs were largely covers done right and they rocked! I couldn't help but smile the whole time they were playing. I got to play SRV's 'When The House Is Rockin' with them (and of course I was the loudest thing up there - what a dork)! Way to go Chris, setting another example of 'stage etiquette'. I'll behave next time Greg if you let me sit in! All in all we had a great time. I hope we get another chance to play there so we can start building up a crowd in Louisville.

We played the small "Bikes, Blues & BBQ" festival in the town of Pekin, Illinois, on September 14th. Small festivals can be so much fun and this one was. The guys helping us with load-in and security were helpful and the sound system was great. Even though the crowd was spread out, we had our hardcore fans in lawn chairs right in front of the stage. Although this night wasn't my most technically 'on' night, my emotions were in a good place and I felt like I was at an outdoor festival from the 60's and just let the 'crazy guitar' licks fly. I had some fun that night (and yeah, a few clams were laid out but I think our passion won over the crowd). Dustin and Dave came right along with me - one for all and all for one! I'm always proud of the way Dave and Dustin play. They're both great soldiers I can depend on out there on the road and great partners in art when we enter the breach. I know I haven't said it enough, but thanks guys for being there with me all these months and miles.

Our Sunday gig was at Martini's in Rock Island, Illinois, and was for the Blues Society in the Quad Cities area. Even though last year had a better turnout, we still had so much fun with them. I want to thank the Blues Society for taking another chance with us and giving my group the opportunity to play for them. We had fans come in from Chicago, Milwaukee, and mid-Iowa and I was not going to disappoint. By the end of the show, people just stood in front of us while we played our encore for the night, 'People Say'. The song has really evolved since the "Tailspin Headwhack" album and now has a funky groove in front with an extended outro-psychedelic-jam at the end that builds into a frenzy. The Blues Society got us rooms at this hotel called The Lodge Hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa, and you can see the building on the horizon from miles away. It had a tall, stately Tudor-style exterior with plenty of dark veneer panels on the inside. The décor was Middle-Ages complete with portraits of Lords and Ladies dotting the walls. The guys commented on how we felt like we were in a Scooby-Doo mystery adventure and we expected the eyes in the paintings to move with us! Creepy at times, but a huge, memorable place nonetheless.

It never fails to leave me speechless when I think back on the many people I've met while out on the road. They talk with me and share their emotions and feelings. More often than not, people use our time together to tell me how much I make them happy and have helped them through some tough times with my music and performances. It truly leaves me in awe when I think about it later on in my hotel room. I want all of you out there to know that the feeling is mutual; all of you help me through tough times, too. You truly make me glad to be alive and it reinforces in me that what I'm doing is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing out there in the world. Thank you all so much!

- Chris Duarte

 


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