Chris Duarte and Monte Montgomery
Romp, and New & Approved (Rounder)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Sept. 12, 2003
Chris Duarte GroupRomp (Rounder)
Monte MontgomeryNew & Approved (Harmonic) When the opening punch of an album is as urgent and below the belt as "Do the Romp," chances are more good hits lie within. Romp, Chris Duarte's fifth full-length over the course of almost a decade, highlights the San Antonio native's modern, guitar-driven blues with style and class. It's not just that he can guitar-check Hendrix ("101") and the Beatles ("Mr. Neighbor") without effort, or even toss off a good cover (Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee"). It's that the longtime local, like his Austin contemporary Monte Montgomery, is imminently worthy of inclusion in the crowded pantheon of great Texas guitarists ("B-Flat Blues," "Like Eric," "Last Night"). Despite occasional overplaying, Duarte's mastery of the instrument is as compelling as it is engaging. The same can be said about Monte Montgomery, only add a hint of irony where the title of his second live album this year is concerned. Cut at the Cactus Cafe and authorized by release on his own label, Montgomery's fret-board derring-do burns bright over a dozen extended tracks -- only two cuts clock in under four minutes. Montgomery's own compositions ("Took Too Long," "Wishing Well," "All I Can Do") stack up nicely against some choice covers (Dire Straits' "Romeo & Juliet" and Willis Alan Ramsey's "Northeast Texas Women"). It's hard to find fault with Montgomery, whose loping "River" is a guitar slinger's showpiece. Worst you can say is that he's stylistically all over the place, but tell it to his legion of fans, who'll give you the middle finger, buy this CD, and still attend the show faithfully.