Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ghost Kings of Beale Street reviewed by Steve Jones

Ghost Kings of Beale Street
Chainsaw Dupont
Blue Warrior Records
15 tracks w/interactive materials

Chainsaw Dupont is a “Delta-born and Chicago-made” guitar slinging bluesman who has put out some really interesting music and lyrics. With this album, Chainsaw has completed his trilogy of “Blues Street” CDs. This CD was preceded by Lake Street Lullaby and Bourbon Street Breakdown, so Dupont has now covered the Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis styles, the triad of blues music capitals and styles.

Recorded in Memphis’ legendary Sun Studio (and partly at Delmark in Chicago), the album really hearkens more to the sound produced over at the other old famous studio in Memphis– Stax Records. This album is truly a mix of the styles and genres around Beale Street. Soul, rockabilly, R&B, blues, jazz, funk, rock and inspirational music are all represented in this 15 track effort (13 plus 2 bonus tracks), but the big musical backdrop here hearkens to the R&B and Soul sounds that made Memphis famous. One can almost taste the smoky, dry rubbed barbeque as you listen to this music.

The sound is very-Memphis like and it is quite the ride down Beale Street with a plethora of good backup artists and guests on the CD. The Blues Warriors backing Dupont are Jack “Jungle Dog” Baker on bass, Christopher Robinson on drums, Patrick Dugan on piano and guitar, and the “Chain Gang” horns of Brennan Connors on tenor and alto sax and Julian Harris on trumpet and flugelhorn. Other artists drop in for support on various tracks.

“Sinners or Saints?” is a rockabilly take off on a gospel-like number asking whether many music legends are sinners or saints. This is probably my favorite track on the CD as it assaults the inspirational in both a somewhat-reverential and off beat way.

Another hot track is the instrumental “Funky Foot” where Chainsaw stirs up some great blues and rock licks on his guitar. Dupont follows this song with more great guitar and some mean BB King-like licks in a slow blues duet number with Patrick Dugan called “When It’s Sweet.” The two of them trading licks makes for some down and dirty music. If you need to find a blues guitarist to learn from, these two tracks will tell you that this Chicago bluesman is right there ready to school you with the best of them.
Dave Specter parries with him on guitar on “Never Know,” a choral blues-rock number that Dupont calls “existential,” and later on in “Bluesomatic,” a self-proclaimed blues infomercial. Probably the most whacked out numbers on the CD, we get to see Chainsaw pushing the musical limits yet making the ride fun and enjoyable.

I loved the entire set of songs , but one other bears some mention. “Flame of Love” hearkens back to 70’s R&B with some heavy horns and bass sounds. The whole CD is filled with the deep dark bass and horn arrangements but it really comes out and grabs you by the scruff of the collar on this track.

Dupont becomes Otis Redding, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Wilson Pickett, Sam without Dave, Duane Allman and other “ghosts” of Beale Street in this exceptional Memphis music ride. I expected this to be a mix of music, but I got even more than I bargained for in listening to it. Soup to nuts, we see all of Memphis and it’s musical style in one man and his music. Chainsaw Dupont is quite the multidimensional man and this CD is proof positive this artist will be making an impact on the blues music scene for years to come!

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