David "Chainsaw" Dupont | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

David "Chainsaw" Dupont 

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Too many modern blues guitarists try to make up for their lack of innovation by memorizing the postwar canon, revving everything up to hyperspeed, and swamping it in distortion--as if to convince listeners that being bludgeoned is a transcendent experience. Mississippi-born David "Chainsaw" Dupont takes a different approach. There's a craftsman's logic to even his most abandoned moments that makes clear he's playing ideas, not just "feelings" or notes. Dupont's solos seem to arise fully formed from their harmonic contexts: he'll play a chord, spin a note or two out of it, extend these notes in promising directions, return to the same chord, pick another idea, and repeat the pattern. His close attention to harmonic structure also means he spends a lot of time in the middle register, heightening the anticipation until he finally breaks free into ecstatic high notes. His repertoire includes the usual standards--Howlin' Wolf's "Back Door Man," Albert King's "Crosscut Saw" (predictably recast as "I'm a Chainsaw"), instrumentals like Freddie King's "San Ho-Zay"--but he shines brightest on his own songs. On these he tweaks the classic urban bluesman persona, presenting himself as a transplanted bumpkin with a hankering for good times and a tendency toward machismo. "Kind of Fat" celebrates carnal country values ("I like my baby kind of fat / I'm just a Mississippi country boy / I guess I was raised like that"), while in "99 MPH" our hero races back home to his woman, driving "a thousand miles / Never filled up with gas." Dupont is still honing his style--his originals often use familiar melodies and rhythms--but his determination to favor craft over pyrotechnics is an encouraging sign. Saturdays, 10 PM, and Sundays, 7 PM, Bossman Blues Center, 3500 W. Lake; 773-722-8744.

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