Texas guitar slinger Chris Duarte comes to Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The Chris Duarte Group, a blues/rock power trio fronted by Austin, Texas guitar slinger Chris Duarte, will perform on Tuesday at Smoke Signals.

Duarte is on tour in support of his 11th album, “My Soul Alone.”

Since emerging in the mid-1990s from the music hotbed of Austin, Duarte has proven his mettle as a songwriter, singer and bandleader.

Duarte’s initial inspiration to make music was when he saw “Fiddler on the Roof” on TV as a youngster.

“I immediately wanted to play something,” he said. “Didn’t get an instrument in my hands for about eight years, but the seed was planted.”

In his early teens, growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Duarte started learning to play on his older brother’s guitar while voraciously digging into a range of rock bands, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Black Sabbath to punk. By 14 he got his first electric guitar, and in 1979, at the age of 16, he moved on his own to Austin “and bought a ’63 Stratocaster for $500.”

He initially explored his love for the jazz of Coltrane, Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, but enjoyed a blues epiphany when he heard the then largely unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Continental Club.

“Blues was king in Austin,” Duarte recalls, and he soon earned a thorough education in the genre. Playing with Texas favorites like Bobby Mack & Night Train and Junior Medlow & The Bad Boys, he earned a reputation as a hot new gun in a town. At the same time, he dug into the work of such Austin guitar legends as Jimmie Vaughan, Denny Freeman and Derek O’Brien, paying special note to the rhythmic foundation that’s a hallmark of the Lone Star blues style.

He won a major label deal with Silvertone Records and released “Texas Sugar/Strat Magik” in 1994 to considerable notice. He was named “Best New Talent” in Guitar Player’s 1995 Reader’s Poll and finished fourth in the magazine’s “Best Blues Guitarist” category behind legends Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.

Musician magazine recognized him three years later for his album “Tailspin Headwhack” (1997), praising “Duarte’s monstrous chops, from funk to punk, from Hendrix to B.B. King, all marked by Duarte’s percussive, in-your-face Strat sound and a subtle use of samples, loops and electronics.”