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Blues Dues
by Haven James

Event: Chris Carter
Where: West Strand Grill (50 Abeel Street, Kingston, 340-4272)
When: Saturday, April 3 [1999]

Chris Carter will be playing the "Night Shift" Saturday, April 3 [1999], at the West Strand Grill high atop the cliffs on the Rondout in Kingston. Carter is fully committed to what he terms "modern blues," and his appearance looks to be a clinic on the form for both fans and fellow artists.

Working as a professional sideman for years, either as a hired gun with a Stratocaster or as leader of his backup band, Chris Carter has honed his chops to meticulous articulation. In 1998 he released his own CD on Streamliner Records with singer Bobby Harden, titled Night Shift. Sporting seven original tunes and three covers, the CD spans chunky funk to classic soulful stretch, all geared to highlight the execution of intensely varied riffs.

It's doubtful that the CD will be a big seller, or even hit the charts for that matter. Not that it sucks or anything; in fact, Carter's cut of the Otis Rush hit "Right Place, Wrong Time" and his original tune, "You're Barking Up The Wrong Tree," are killer, but unknown blues records don't sell and I think Carter knows that. Instead the record stands more as a polished demo stating "these are my tricks/and see how good I can do them." That's what leads to the notion that Saturday's show at the West Strand Grill ought to be one hot night.

Night Shift opens with a brief energetic vamp. All one minute and 18 seconds of it leads absolutely nowhere but to the dead-air gap before the next cut, which is a little odd. But the track no doubt is "the Chris Carter Band intro vamp" for whoever they're fronting, which in this case is Chris himself. Most of the songs that follow push hard and move a lot of energy in a little bit of time. Again, they way they flow together doesn't exactly add up to a cohesive record, but the songs definitely show that this band can cook.

Carter has backed veteran artists like Chubby Checker, The Drifters, The Ink Spots, The Marvelettes, The Platters, Joey Dee & The Starlighters, and Ronnie Spector, to name only a few. You get the drift--he paid his dues on the circuit. With his band he's opened for talent like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Lonnie Brooks, Mitch Ryder, Robert Gordon, and recently, for the performance at Tramps in Manhattan by the hot Baton Rouge guitarist, Kenny Neal. And Carter was the guitarist on Marla BB's Mercy, recorded live at the House of Blues (he was not, however, the guitarist who appeared with her when she hit the Tinker Street Cafe to promote that record a year or so back, which is too bad).

The West Strand features a lot of blues action, including the Sunday late afternoon jams. Odds are the place will be packed with area players looking to pick up a few new tricks, and well it should be. Chis Carter is often one of those guys who gets mentioned by the headliner at the curtain call bow-and-thank-you; he's also one of those guys they could never have done the show without. You can count on the fact that he'll be putting out everything he's got for the Ulster blues crew.

Call the West Strand Grill, located at 50 Abeel Street and one of the few surviving clubs with quality live music, at 340-4272 for ticket info and show times. And remember, you can catch Werewolves on the Web at Hudson Valley Music. Just look for the Werewolves logo.

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on March 12, 1999

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