Chainsaw Dupont
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Chainsaw Dupont

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Blues Acoustic

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"Spin control"

Most bluesmen can't even spell "trilogy." Chicagoan Chainsaw Dupont now has one under his belt with the release of "Ghost Kings of Beale Street," recorded primarily at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn.

While Dupont's two previous albums evoked the Chicago and New Orleans sounds, "Ghost Kings" is decidedly more soulful, delivering a message of healing and renewal. Dupont's taut melody lines are perfectly complemented by lyricist Steve Pasek's sophisticated thinking-man's musings.

Dupont's vocals have improved immeasurably since his debut CD, "Lake St. Lullaby," and on "Ghost Kings" the focus is on his axmanship. His solos don't appear as long, drawn-out showpieces, but rather in short, powerful bursts in a nod to the stripped-down compositions. A well-placed horn section or backing vocal adds to the hot-buttered Memphis soul sound. And the disc gets big props for its innovative packaging, a track-by-track description a la TV Guide.

Jeff Johnson - Chicago Sun-Times, March 4, 2007


"Dupont rocks three cradles of the blues"

Local blues guitarist David "Chainsaw" Dupont has a backstory that even Forrest Gump would find intriguing. Since his birth in McComb, Miss., the 50-year-old has criss-crossed the country, spending time as a guitarist for a black Elvis impersonator in Los Angeles, living on the streets in Atlanta, jamming with a young Stevie Ray Vaughan in New Orleans and narrowly escaping with his life after a run-in with a white supremacist at a band audition in Georgia.

"I'm not a person with regrets. Everything I've been through, I think there's a reason and a purpose", says Dupont, reached at his home in Evanston. "Not much could surprise me anymore, but I'm alive, I'm happy and I'm playing music. So things are good."

Friday at the House of Blues Dupont will be celebrating the release of his latest album, "Ghost Kings of Beale St." (Blues Warrior), the final part in a trilogy celebrating the three cradles of the blues -- Chicago, New Orleans, and Memphis.

The basic tracks for the album were recorded at Memphis' legendary Sun Studio before the musicians returned to Delmark Studio for the final sessions. The multi-album undertaking, which Dupont says was designed to pay tribute to the roots of the blues, also allowed the guitarist a return to his own roots.

With "Beale St." the bluesman explores the rich musical tradition of the Mississippi Delta, where he spent his formative years working on a cotton plantation. Dupont also lived in New Orleans for a time, traveling to the Big Easy at the age of 14 to locate his father, then a professional boxer named Kid Dupas, a.k.a. "The Whip". It wasn't until 1971 that he first moved north to Chicago, a city he's lived in on-and-off ever since.

"There have been maybe six cities I've called home since [1971], but I always end up back in Chicago. It's the flavor of the musicians here that really fit what I do."

Despite everything that he's been through, Dupont credits both his faith and his music with helping him through the hard times, saying, "Since I was very small sound was something that I loved -- any sound, any music. I don't know where I'd be without it."

Andy Downing - Chicago Tribune, March 16, 2007


"Keepin' the blues alive"

Multiple release parties to welcome final album in Dave 'Chainsaw" Dupont's trilogy, 'Ghost Kings of Beale St.'

March 8, 2007
By Vickie Snow Staff writer

When Dave "Chainsaw" Dupont drops a new album, he doesn't have just one or two record-release parties.

He has about a dozen.

At various venues.

And with different bandmates.

As the blues guitarist sees it, it's just part of a mission to keep the blues alive in the Windy City -- the Southland included.

To celebrate the Saturday release of "Ghost Kings of Beale St.," the finale of a trilogy that started in 2003 with the Chicago tribute album "Lake St. Lullaby: An Unfinished Blues Opera," Dupont and his band, the Blues Warriors, will play 11 shows, starting tonight at FitzGerald's in Berwyn.

Dupont, a native of Mississippi now living in Evanston, will be joined by the Chain Gang Horns at FitzGerald's and on March 16 at Chicago's House of Blues.

He will play as part of a quartet March 15 at Rosa's Lounge.

For a more old-school sound, Dupont will strip it down to a trio for gigs March 23 at Blues Island in Blue Island and Monday at Lee's Unleaded, Dupont's standing gig on the South Side.

"We've been working hard to bring back the Monday night tradition known as Blue Monday," Dupont said.

At each gig this month, fans will get a sampling of Dupont's trilogy, a tribute to the blues of Chicago and Memphis with New Orleans (2005's "Bourbon St. Breakdown") sandwiched in the middle.

"For a long time, I played as a three-piece so I'm used to that," said Dupont, 50. "But I like the six-piece big band sound, too."

Dupont refers to his playing style as "Delta crush guitar." He favors the "gritty, Albert King style" of blues, and adds layers of soul, rockabilly and jazz in his songwriting as well.

"I like to be versatile," he said. "I'm really crazy about the Memphis style -- which is horn-based and more like soul -- Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes. Chicago is 12-bar blues, and Orleans style is a Caribbean-type rhythm."

Each installment of the "blues street trilogy" was released on Blues Warrior Records, owned by Dupont's manager and lyricist, Steve Pasek.

The latest, "Ghost Kings of Beale St.," was recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis and mixed at Delmark Records in Chicago. - Daily Southtown


"Ghost Kings Alive and Kicking in Chicago"

03.01.2007 by Marla Seidell

When asked to describe his music, David "Chainsaw" Dupont offers an old Southern saying to explain the inexplicable. "We just shimmy up the tree a little without going too much out on a limb — you can't pinpoint the feelings," he says over the phone, right before he's about to perform with his band at Lee's Unleaded Blues nightclub, 7401 S. South Chicago. The 50-year-old lifelong bluesman tells me that Lee's is a "the real thing — one of the best juke joints in Chicago." In his opinion, most of what claims to be blues in Chicago is really not. "Most guys cover blues songs," he notes. "Very few people are doing original work." Doing original work is Dupont's specialty.

You might have heard of alt-country, welcome to the land of alt-blues — distinctly rooted in the three-chord patterns of the blues (unlike the 12-bar style you're likely to hear in the blues tourist circuit), mixed up with other strains of music. It all depends on the current moment for Dupont, who incorporates the various children of the blues — rock, R&B, jazz, rockabilly and soul into his music. "What we do, it's a hybrid of different styles of blues," notes Dupont. His new album, The Ghost Kings of Beale Street, due to release March 8th, is influenced, in part, by the sound of Memphis blues — plenty of horns that gives it a rockabilly punch, as well as some jazz and R&B — a blues-rock-soul interpretation.

Recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, where ghosts like Elvis, Jerry Lee and Johnny made their mark, this is Dupont's third album in a blues trilogy, highlighting the blues in three American cities — Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis. Lake Street Lullaby (2003), is Chicago-style blues, with the melancholy, catatonic, five-note scale style indigenous to the Windy City covering the theme of disappointment; Bourbon Street Breakdown (2005), which is straight-up New Orleans blues — delving into the theme of addiction, with the Caribbean-sounding influence of that region; and the Memphis-style blues — rock and R&B — on Ghost Kings is about redemption. "It's a very personal record," says Steve Pasek, Dupont's manager and the producer of the trilogy series, who also co-wrote some of the lyrics on Ghost Kings. "It's hopeful, it's about the renewal of faith." The transition from disappointment to renewal is partly the autobiographical story of Dupont.

Born in Macomb, Mississippi, David Dupont — nicknamed Chainsaw because a guitar is like an ax. And as he explains, "It takes a long time to chop down a tree with an ax." — grew up on the Mississippi Delta — the cradle of the blues. His mother, a piano teacher taught by Fats Domino, gave him a guitar for his 5th birthday — a gift that sparked off the first inspiration to follow his life's calling.

"What makes my music authentic is the experience of living the life of a blues man," explains Dupont. Working the cotton fields, for one. Growing up in a juke joint is another. Being surrounded by musicians is another factor that shaped the particular blues pedigree of Dupont. At the age of 6 and 7 Dupont used to watch the Sausage Brothers — Bob and Sun Sausage, guests at his mother's juke joint — perform. "I would sit at their feet and watch them play — they were an inspiration to me." Dupont started performing at age 15, right after he moved to Chicago after his mother died in a car accident, taking a job his older brother Johnny got for him. In Chicago Dupont found plenty of opportunity — "here you could play every night of the week if you wanted to." He also formed a cover band called the Drifting Soul. Shortly thereafter he dropped out of high school to play music full time.

The next chapter of Dupont's life takes place in New Orleans, Memphis and Houston, as Dupont wandered from city to city, from gig to gig. Another life-transcending inspiration came in the form of Stevie Ray Vaughn, whom Dupont met in New Orleans in 1983. At the time, Dupont was homeless, at a low point in his life. Vaughn gave him the opportunity to jam with him, and thus began Dupont's true blues career — colored by the influence of Vaughn's superior skills in electric blues guitar. When Vaughn died Dupont was deeply saddened. "I didn't feel like playing, but I felt the spirit — from his death — to keep going, to not give up."

He ended up back up North in Evanston in the mid-'80s and has been based here ever since. Another milestone for Dupont was touring as a guitarist with Chicago blues legend Junior Wells in the '90s.

The album Ghost Kings is passionate and soulful, with heartfelt lyrics that celebrate the experience of the blues life — the ubiquitous presence of women, of course, among other things. "Women give you the blues," says Dupont, with an easy laugh. On the track, "When it's Sweet-Slow Blues" Dupont sings about the mystery of women, dedicated to wife No. 3 (to whom he's been married for 13 years), or was it wife No. 2? "I sat up all night wondering baby / trying to figure out how you feel/ I sat up all night long, baby / trying to figure out how you feel / But after all these years of lovin' you, darlin, I should have known your sweet love was real."

When listening to Ghost Kings, it's not only the lyrics that grab you, but the killer guitar sound of Dupont — Chainsaw is an apt name — that lends the music a sound wholly unexpected from the sad stuff one typically associates with the blues. This is blues on fire — the combination of blues meshed with rock-n-roll — à la Stevie Ray Vaughn — that makes this music so appealing. "The album is interesting for people who think they don't like the blues because it doesn't sound like what most people think the blues is," observes Pasek.

50 years old and still going strong, Chainsaw Dupont's alt-blues is rich with the musical influences of the three American blues cities — Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis, and seamlessly blends in other sounds that are very much a part of the blues tapestry. "I try to take blues to another level — I try to raise the bar, instead of the same old thing over and over. Like Muddy Waters, I'm trying to be an innovator." - Gaper's Block


Discography

Acoustified/Electrified - 2010
The Real Guitar Hero - 2010
Ghost Kings of Beale St. -- 2007
Bourbon St. Breakdown -- 2005
Lake St. Lullaby -- 2003
(the 'blues street trilogy')

also EP, Hoodoo Ya -- 2004
regular airplay on Chicago's WXRT-FM, XM radio, WXPN Philadelphia, WWOZ New Orleans, Capital Radio Sacramento

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Bio

Chainsaw Dupont & the Blues Warriors have built a strong following in Chicago by swimming against the tide, performing original material rather than the slew of preferred "classic blues" covers that are favored on the touristy blues circuit. Updating the classic blues with modern sounds, they still retain the soulful underpinnings that have always made the blues work. Dupont, the former ace guitarist for Chicago legend Junior Wells, has made his mark and attracted some of the best young musicians in Chicago to his band. His following includes both traditional blues fans and others who appreciate the musicianship of the band. They're not a "jam band", but when this band locks in, they infuse both originals and occasional blues chestnuts with improvisational energy, and some sets have become legendary, extending as long as 2 hours, filling the dance floor.

"...his musical persona is as palpable on disc as that of Taj Mahal or Keb' Mo' -- he's masterful, nuanced, and out to kill with blues power...Ultimately, each track is surprisingly different in style and execution from the last, but the entire disc possesses an overarching blues sensibility."
- Blues Revue

"Forget about all the so-called 'New Blues' stars. Chainsaw Dupont is one of the brightest stars in contemporary blues."
- Real Blues (Canada)

"Dupont's not scared to experiment within the blues context...an interesting African American musician who is prepared to take chances with the blues."
- Mike Stephenson, Blues & Rhythm (UK)