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Chainsaw Dupont
Ghost Kings of Beale Street

Blue Warrior Records # BLW003

By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
15 songs; 64:36 minutes; Meritable
Memphis music

Consider two different musicians: both listen to and learn from the masters. Both are talented enough to become able to make their own music that is distinctly theirs. For one, his music is what it is. For the other, he is so gifted that his music is whatever he wants it to be. The latter description is Mississippi born, Chicago resident David “Chainsaw” Dupont. Chainsaw can create his own music and doesn’t have to copy anyone. But, when he wants to pay tribute, in this case to a whole field of artists, he is so masterful that he can mimic style and use original songs, not just covers.

Recorded at famed Sun Studio in Memphis and Chicago’s Delmark Studios, this “enhanced” album (more info in your pc) delivers what the name suggests, songs inspired by the town’s legends: Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, BB King, Sam & Dave, Carl Perkins, Pops Staples, and Howlin’ Wolf. Across the 15 original songs, styles include: Blues-rock, R&B Ballad, Slow Blues, Soul, Rockabilly, Gospel/Inspirational, Blues, R&B, Choral Blues-rock, Instrumental Blues-Rock, and Slow Jazz. This album is the third of a “Blues Street Trilogy” celebrating first Chicago blues (Lake St. Lullaby), secondly, New Orleans (Bourbon St. Breakdown), and now Memphis motifs.

Vocally Dupont has an enjoyable, mid register, real-deal sound, his guitar licks are tasteful and thoughtfully crafted for each song, guest artists abound like backup vocalist OnJaLee and plenty of horns by the Chain Gang – Brennan Connors and Julian Harris, tempos are mixed, productions range from sparse to full, and lyrically the themes are redemption and the renewal of faith.  

Standout tracks: “Sinners and Saints” is a ripping-tempo Rockabilly number with humorous lyrics (“Today’s sinners are tomorrow’s saints”) and a list of gone-too-soon heroes like Robert Johnson, Buddy Holly, and Jimi Hendrix. The inspirational “The Flood” begins slowly as one acoustic slide guitar under a solo vocal. It soon swells with electric autoharp, maracas, tambourine, and a chorus of background vocals urging, “get yourself [your soul] ready.” Blues fans can rejoice in “When It’s Sweet,” a six minute slow number with Patrick Dugan’s guitar trading classic fills with Chainsaw. 

There is such a wide sampling it’s practically eclectic. With no dark songs and a prevailing upbeat mood, there are bound to be songs every listener will like, if you can’t like them all. Even blues purists looking for a full blues album can focus on the main story here – the artists’ incredible competence in every style.

James “Skyy Dobro” Walker  is a noted Blues writer and Blues Blast contributor

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