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Chris Duarte Group

Wednesday, December 31, at the Grand Emporium.

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Being a blues guitar slinger from Austin, Texas, comes with more baggage than an ex-girlfriend convention. Anyone who dares tiptoe across the hallowed ground of Stevie Ray Vaughan is bound to draw comparisons, fair or not. In the case of Chris Duarte, those comparisons are wholly appropriate. From his weather-beaten Stratocaster licks to his bourbon-drunk and dope-smoked vocals, Duarte has the routine down cold. Given that Vaughan won't be releasing any new records or touring anytime soon, Duarte may be the next best thing. Besides, he comes by it honestly -- at age sixteen, Duarte was watching his guitar hero perform in seedy Austin dives. Some pundits even hailed his 1994 debut as the greatest blues album of the decade, a bit of hyperbole that's caused Duarte to retreat from his overt Vaughan influences ever since.

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