The sound of the CDG is always in constant change due to personnel movements on the drums and or bass. When John Jordan was in the band it had its own style and identity and when Frosty, Barry Smith, was on the drum chair, it took on its own life. I try to let the musicians interpret the music in their own voice and style for acouple of reasons; one being for the new guy to get comfortable in this new setting. Everyone plays better when they’re comfortable. If there’s something I don’t like I’ll mention it and tell them what I need, but for the most part I want them to put their individual stamp on the music. I want change and progression and evolution in my music and life. Of course results can be debated amongst my fans as to which combinations of rhythm sections have actually been a positive progression or detrimental regression but I’ll leave that to the fans. It’s all a musical journey and like in life you’re going to have some tough times and you have to learn to work through them.
The setting on stage is also like conversing. I’m listening to how the drummer is phrasing and grooving and I’m hearing where the bass player is going harmonically. In return they’re listening to me as I steer the ship upon the aural ocean that we’re navigating on. So sometimes it’s fast and furious, other times its smooth sailing and once in a while its choppy seas.
Every day is different.
Ø Riffmaster– Tell us a little bit about your live show’s transition over the years… Where you came from, where you are now, and where you are going with the live show in the future…
Well, as in the previous answer, the music takes on a bit of an evolution with each new member,and I’ve had lots of new players, especially drummers. *chuckle* What has really changed is the approach of the songs and the technical applications I apply now due to what I hope is better execution through the many hours I’ve spent practicing trying to achieve the melodic ideas I hear in my head and of my idols. You also have to contribute the hundreds upon hundreds of gigs that I’ve done working on ideas and trying new things. You remember the things that work and especially remember the things that don’t. Every gig I go out and try to do my utmost best and push it further to new frontiers, or to a mirror like polish. I’ve seen so many musicians go out and "mow the lawn” at gigs and nothing gets me more in music. Just wasting their time and mine. I’m not perfect and I admit out of all my gigs there have been the few times where I’ve hit the wall but it’s rare because I still really enjoy what I do. I put up with all those hours driving, the crappy food, the occasional drunk, poor pay and time away from my family because this is what I am. I loved oing this.
All for those few hours I get to climb up that proverbial mountain and challenge myself to greater heights.
Ø Riffmaster– How many hours a week does it take to put this (your band, writing yourmusic,) all together for the listening masses?
When I’m on tour my work day starts the second I pass through the threshold of the front door of my house and doesn’t end till I park the van and turn off the engine in the driveway when I return.
While at home I try to stay up on my dexterity by practicing scales and chops and spend time thinking of new songs. My routine takes up several hours every day. Of couse I have a house and there’s always something that has to be done with that so it’s a bit of a juggling act. I need 30 hour days sometimes.
Ø Riffmaster– Tell us -- do you give guitar lessons when off the road? How many students and at what levels do you teach?
I only gave lessons for a short while back in 99’ and it was largely due to financial stresses. I had a few students that put up with my woeful style of curriculum but it’s not gratifying for me. I just felt I was wasting their time and I don’t explain stuff very well and I expect them to learn as fast as meon the simple stuff. I really don’t think I’ll do that again if Ican help it. I’m not against showing something to somebody in the course of 5 or 10 minutes but no more "teacher/student” settings.
Ø Riffmaster– I'm sure you've had some uncomfortable & weird moments while on the road meeting other great artists, guitar players and bands. Can you give us anexample…? Or even a Spinal Tap moment…?
To just whip up a story now will be hard…I’m whizzing through a million memories that run the gamut of good times and bad. I remember trying to console Timbuk 3 after they were yanked off the stage because the promoter thought it was a joke and not a very good one too. We, Bobby Mack and Night Train, were playing on this sort of musical review sort of show, you know where they line up about 6 to 7 bands in an evening and they each play about 30 minutes. The club was Texas Money down on 6th street in Austin and this has got to be around 82’ or so. So Timbuk 3 gets on the stage and they plop their ghetto box on a high stool between them, it’s only Pat and Barbara at this point, and start to play Muddy Water’s "Ijust wanna make love to you”. During the song I’m sitting out against the bar and I’m seeing Louis Black and Mark, I’ve forgotten his last name but they owned Liberty Lunch and did the booking and this review thing was their idea, and they’re both going "What is this?” "What is this!?”, and then something to the effect of they’re done and went up and gave them the dreaded side of the hand across the front of the neck gesture. Timbuk 3 ended their second song and Pat said,” Well, we’re Timbuk 3 and we were supposed to play more but I guess not.”, and got off the stage obviously a bit upset by the ordeal of being silently "gonged”on stage.
I then went inthe dressing room and told them to hell what those guys think, I thought what they were doing was cool and original. "Don’t let this get ya’down, Y’all are great, that was cool”.
The rest ishistory.
Ø Riffmaster– Chris, have you ever had a rude artist on the same stage as you? I hearsome of these cats are really stuck on themselves while others are pretty cool,or funny, etc.
I was playing a gig with Julie Burrell atthe time and we were opening for the Go Ahead Band, Grateful Dead members Brett Midland, keyboards, and Bill Kreutzmann and the bassist for Carlos Santana and a local San Fran guitar hero. Brett was a really nice guy but Bill was being kind of a jerk to us. We’d done nothing to them other than being the pesky opening band, but we’d done nothing to warrant that type of treatment. Bill was doing things like pulling his hand away after he extends it to you meeting you and then being slightly snarky and condescending afterwards. Kind of juvenile behavior but whatever. I further incurred Bill’s wrath by confusing his name with Phil. I don’t know why I had the confusion butI just thought he was Phil not Bill. By the third time I called him Phil he snapped," It’s Bill godammit it’s Bill! Geeze!” …Sorry dude.
Another time; playing with Bobby Mack andwe’re opening up for the Doors tribute band the Back Doors. Who went tofar in copying them they had acquired the Doors Lighting rig. The gig was at Liberty Lunch and all I could think about half way through the show was how damn hot those lights were on my back.
After being sufficiently burned around myshoulders, I commented to the Back Doors crew standing in the wings as I exitedthe stage, "Wow, those lights were hot.” "Welcome to themusic biz kid!” as it was spat out at me in a gruff grouchy manner. Maybe everything was hard edged to me back in my early years. I don’t know.
Ø Riffmaster– Please tell our readers what your high school years were like, and what the soundtrack would be to sum up your senior year in High school.
Oh God, high school. I didn’t even finish high school. Gone in my junior year and soon after I was living on my own in Austin. I’d have to say Schumann’s "Unfinished Symphony”
Ø Riffmaster– So Chris, what are you listening to al lot of these days?
The van we travel in is a little Spartan on comforts so we don’t have a cd player or mp3 thing, just a radio. At least it’s 2 band frequency. Summertime is the only time it’s on the AM band, listening to baseball of course. Love it, and it’s a great way to pass the long drives we so occasionally do between gigs. For the most part though the dial is on the FM and it rarely goes beyond 91.9. I’m a NPR/Community radio person and I don’t want to hear those annoying commercials. So it’s a lot of classical, which I do love, and the once in a while jazz and Americana. Oh, and I get a need to hear Tejano or Nortena music. Hey I’m from San Antonio and I mostly grew up on the southside of town, it’s in my blood.
Ø Riffmaster– Dream Car? Or Recreational Vehicle?
My current "fun”car is my 1968 Camaro 396 SS. Vinyl roof and Tripoli Turquoise exterior and interior.She’s a looker.
Ø Riffmaster– Why?
I’ve always liked old cars. My first dream was to have a 59’ or 60’ Chevy Impala with the "cat eye” lenses in the back, but the opportunity arose to get my current car for a good price and I was lucky enough to get it. It’s even more of a blast to have a true muscle car. There’s nothing like the feel of driving one with the sound of that big block engine.
Ø Riffmaster– Name some folks you would love to get on the same album or share the stage with… Inquiring minds want to know…
Unfortunately alot of my major hero’s have passed on; Joe Zawinul, Jaco, Coltrane and Miles, Albert King, Freddie King, Wolf, Hendrix.
Although we still have John McGlaughlin and Mike Stern, Wayne Shorter, Jeff Beck and Clapton, Billy Cobham and tons of others. This is another answer that can go on forever.
Ø Riffmaster– I also don’t want to forget this… Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart …?
As I mentioned before, I have that Swiss Organ trio project we’re going to continue to persue, and Steve Bailey and I have been trying for years now to get a project out. Then there’s also Bluestone Co. We also want to do another album and of course there’s CDG and it’s ever evolving style and sound.
Ø Riffmaster– Lastly, please give our readers one last parting shot across the bow… What is Chris Duarte going to be doing in 5 years?
Total and undeniable World Domination of course.
Ø Riffmaster– I would like to thank you for your time and candor with my loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some quality guitar oriented music.
It’s been my pleasure Riffmaster and as always I want to thank the many people that support me with their efforts and time in keeping this train on the tracks and to all my fans and listeners in the world.
I honestly believe I have the greatest fans in the world and I will never to that for granted.