Chambers Blues Duet

NIGHT BEAT on Rhythm Street              Joe Tate

Friday

Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar, at 2009 Bridgeway, hosts what should be called the Chamber Blues Duo. Consisting of Chris Goddard on Guitar and Eugene Huggins on harmonica and vocals, they deliver delta blues with a chamber ambience. Each instrument, perfectly attuned, blends melodically with the other.

This is not usually the case with most guitar-harmonica duos.

Huggins, who cut his eyeteeth on Little Walter, spins out flawless blues with a tone set for fine dining.  Chris Goddard works his hands like Mississippi John Hurt and delivers primitive yet sophisticated blues guitar that pulsates with syncopation. His right thumb traces a bass line that is always accompanied by some melody and chords struck by the fingers. And that’s just the right hand.

In addition to the fine delta blues, these guys also mix in some standards and rock n’ roll favorites. The first set was heavily weighted to standards while the major feasting was going on.

Goddard starts out solo with “Stardust” and “Cast Your Fate To The Wind.” On each of these songs, Goddard’s mastery of the guitar is displayed.  Where others would simply play chords and melody, Goddard also inserts some counterpoint in the lower register.

Huggins now takes the stage and sings “Reeling And Rocking”, the Chuck Berry hit. During the bridge, they break into the instrumental, “Tequila.”  Neat.

Next up is “Memphis,” with some three part syncopation, two parts guitar, and one part harmonica. This song wants to explode, but the Chamber Bluesmen are keeping it under control.

Goddard lays down a long and flowery intro to “The Wind Cries Mary.” This beautiful Hendrix song reaches a new dimension with the addition of harmonica.

The serious blues starts with a few layers of crying slide guitar. “Mean Old Frisco,” the Arthur Crudup classic relives for a few minutes of harmonica-guitar give and take.

Muddy Waters is remembered next with “Can’t be Satisfied,” which is delivered with authentic style and has all the little slide guitar embellishments. The instrumental sections have guitar-harp harmonies, which push things a little closer to the edge.

The sated audience responds as Huggins sings his rendition of ”Little Red Rooster” of Howlin’ Wolf fame. Actually written by Willie Dixon, this song was a big hit for Wolf in 1961. Goddard lays some amazing slide into this one.

After a smokin’ “Shake Your Money Maker,” the proprietor, Sean Saylor, joins the group on guitar.  Saylor plays a sustained note style, which contrasts with Goddard who lays off these effects. Nevertheless, the blending of the sound is pleasing.

When Huggins takes up a guitar, it’s all guitars for a few minutes. Saylor gives us some solos that are more reminiscent of BB King than the old-fashioned delta blues that is the trademark of Goddard and Huggins. Saylor’s guitar proves itself on “As The Years go Passing By” and “Fools Paradise.”

There were some dueling guitars on “Crazy About A Mercury”, but it was very friendly and entertaining.

The duo has a CD entitled “Troubled Times” and another titled “Life Is A Nightmare” which features Huggins.

Goddard has played with Maria Muldaur and Commander Cody. He also wrote “Rockin Over China,” which was recorded by Commander Cody and Bill Kirchen. He also made a blues compilation CD on the Taxim label with Lisa Kindred.  Goddard also has CD of Christmas songs, which are played beautifully in contrapuntal style.

Huggins also has recorded a CD with Eugene And The Blue Jeans, a group he fronted for many years. He has also recorded with Harvey Mandel, Ron Hacker, Lisa Kindred and Marc Benno. In addition he has preformed with Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy and Tom Waits.

Both Goddard and Huggins are local guys. Goddard grew up in Tiburon and Huggins has lived his whole life here in Sausalito. They will be back at Saylor’s on Friday, June 20, from 7:30 till 10:30 PM. On Saturday June 28, they will be at the Marin Brewing Company at Larkspur Landing.

For booking information call 887 9488.

For reservations at Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar call 332 1512 or go to http://www.saylorsrestaurantandbar.com/news.htm

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