One Track Mind: Kent DuChaine, "Marilyn" (1995)

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?Among the blues musicians of today, you’ve got your stars like Robert Cray, Jonny Lang, Shemekia Copeland and so forth, and then you’ve got the remaining 98% who are toiling away at this blessed craft in relative obscurity, anonymous to all but the patrons who catch their shows in bars and festivals across America and beyond. These little-known blues men and women don’t have big name recognition, access to the finer supporting players and slick promotion. And for all their efforts, it might not even be paying all their bills; they play the blues for nothing more than the thrill of doing so.

One of those guys who gladly sweats for the blues is a fella by the name of Kent DuChaine. I never would have known about him were it not for Derrick Lord turning me on to him several years back. But DuChaine leaves an impression on anyone who has caught his live act.

This troubadour for the blues was played with or opened for such luminaries as Bukka White, Fenton Robinson, Kim Wilson, Hubert Sumlin and Johnny Shines. Armed with only a vintage 1934 National Steel guitar he calls “Leadbessie,” DuChaine gigs a lot around in his Southeast U.S. home and in Europe.

Duchaine can probably expertly play any blues standard out there, especially the Robert Johnson songs that got him hooked on Delta Blues in the first place, but he’s been known to craft some pretty compelling numbers of his own. One of them that I especially like is the fiesty “Marilyn.” It’s a standard twelve bar blues but played with a lot of gusto from DuChaine’s roaring shout and his heavily percussive playing (Kent uses heavier guage strings for Leadbessie for that purpose). The sound from both his voice and the National Steel is big enough that you’re not left wanting for a backing band.

The main object of pride in this song is not the movie star or even a woman at all, but his old ’55 Caddy as he bellows:

She’s got wide whitewall with cool tailpipes,
A sky blue finish honey, that’s out of sight

Come on baby, take a little ride with me
Come on baby, take a little ride with me
I’ve got my limo out front and now I’m headed down to Perdido Key

How can anyone pass up an invite like that? And that’s just what Kent DuChaine’s brand of country blues is: inviting.

I couldn’t find a sample of “Marilyn”, but there’s plenty of live footage available on YouTube that gives you a flavor for the man and his music. Such as this one:

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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