Blues Guitar, Vocals Johnny Shines
Lived in Birmingham, AL
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Kent DuChaine & Leadbessie: Biography
Kent Duchaine started in music when his father taught him to play the ukulele at the age of six, at thirteen he got his first electric guitar and formed a band with his buddies in his hometown of Wayzata, Minnesota, playing mainly popular music at private parties and school functions. After reading some liner notes of an Eric Clapton album Kent started researching blues music. He discovered a Robert Johnson album and was astounded and fascinated at the banging sound as the bottle neck knocked against the frets as Johnson slid it up and down the neck of his guitar. Kent used a butter knife at first determined to recapture the wonderful sound. He immersed himself into the blues music of Johnson, Muddy Waters, Lightening Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Bukka White and never looked back. Kent learned to play the slide guitar and soon developed his own ferocious wild style. In 1970 he opened a show for one his hero’s, the slide guitar genius, Bukka White. From 1972 - 1975 Kent performed in a band with Kim Wilson from the present day “Fabulous Thunderbirds”. The band backed up blues greats such as Fenton Robinson, Boogie Woogie Red, Luther Tucker, Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Burns. The reputation of the band grew and Willie Dixon arranged a recording contract and a concert sharing the bill with Albert Collins, John Lee hooker, Howling Wolf and Margie Evens. In 1979 Kent met up with his beloved and ever faithful Leadbessie. She’s a beat up 1934 National Steel Guitar that wows and astounds audiences when the equally beat up case she travels in is opened and her extra heavy strings are furiously played. Kent discovered and looked up a legendary blues man with the name of Johnny Shines in 1989.
They traveled together for three years and performed over 200 shows together. In that time they recorded “Back To the Country” with harmonica great Snooky Pryor and were honored with the coveted W.C. Handy Award for best country blues album but unfortunately they did not add Kents' name onto the recording! In 1991 the Smithsonian Institute honored the king of the delta blues, Robert Johnson. Kent and Johnny were specially invited to perform and “Roots Of Rhythm And Blues: A tribute To Robert Johnson Era” was the result. This was recorded by Sony/Columbia and also Grammy nominated. Kent and Johnny’s wonderful partnership and friendship was cut short when Johnny Shines sadly passed away in in April 1992. Since going solo in 1982 and hitting the roads, riding the rails, flying the skies and sailing the seas, Kent and Leadbessie have probably by now clocked up over two million miles together including over 80/81 overseas tours (yup, she’s faithful old girl!). A (small) handful of wives have been picked up and lost along the way and many stories gained of friendships, loves, heartaches and the blues that he communicates to his audiences, most of which, leave folk laughing or scratching their heads in disbelief. He also speaks of the history of the blues music, the great men who developed it, and his incredible involvement with some of them to audiences far and wide. Songs such as “Shake Your Money Maker”, Jitterbug Swing” have folk up dancing, Kent’s’ versions of “Trouble In Mind”, “St James Infirmary” have been seen to bring tears in many eyes. The London Times newspaper has named him as one of the best five concerts in the U.K. Kent and Leadbessie have dedicated fans all over the world who are asking all the time for him to add another album to the seven (and one live DVD) that he has already released which include his own ingenious compositions as well as songs that he loves and keeps alive that those wonderful, old blues guys produced.
Kent DuChaine Biography
At the young age of six, Kent DuChaine learned to play the ukulele from his father. At 13, after getting his first electric guitar, he and a few of his buddies formed a garage band in his hometown of Wayzata, Minnesota. They performed at school functions and private parties, mostly playing popular music of the time. After reading the liner notes of an Eric Clapton album, DuChaine checked out a Robert Johnson album from the local library. So taken back by Johnson's music he literally wore the album out listening to it. He never looked back. The music of the Mississippi Delta stole his heart. He immersed himself in the music of Johnson, Muddy Waters, Lightening Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Bukka White and Elmore James.
DuChaine learned to play slide guitar in 1969. One year later he opened for slide guitar genius Bukka White. From 1972 - 1975 DuChaine joined a band with Kim Wilson, of the present day Fabulous Thunderbirds. The band backed up blues greats Fenton Robinson, Boogie Woogie Red, Luther Tucker, Humbert Sumlin, and Eddie Burns. As the reputation of the band spread, legendary songwriter and performer Willie Dixon embraced them. Dixon arranged a recording contract and a concert sharing the bill with Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, the Howling Wolf and Margie Evans.
In 1979 DuChaine found his beloved "Leadbessie." She's a beat-up 1934 National Steel Guitar kitted out with extra heavy strings to cope with his ferociously powerful style. Deciding to go solo in 1982, he took "Leadbessie" on the road, finally settling in the southeastern United States to be closer to the roots of the music he loved.
DuChaine met and established a partnership with legendary blues man Johnny Shines in 1989. They recorded Back to the Country with harmonica great Snooky Pryor. They were honored with the coveted WC Handy Award for Best Country Blues Album. In 1991, the Smithsonian Institute honored the King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson. DuChaine and Shines were among the privileged few that were invited to perform at this prestigious 25th annual Festival of American Folklife. The end result was the Grammy nominated album Roots of Rhythm and Blues: A Tribute to the Robert Johnson Era recorded by Sony/Columbia.
DuChaine and Shines performed over 200 shows together traveling all over North America, all the while DuChaine continued his solo career. Their relationship was cut short by Shines' death in April 1992.
DuChaine, determined more than ever to spread the blues, began to perform in Europe and Scandinavia. He now has six albums under his belt, 44 plus tours overseas, and still manages to perform all over North America. He was honored by the London Times naming him "one of the five best concerts in the UK." When not thrilling music lovers with authentic Delta Blues, Urban Blues and his original music, he's relaxing at home in beautiful South Georgia with his wife, their son Miles, the cats, and Beau, the German Shepherd.
He reminds me of a young Muddy Waters. (Willie Dixon, 1975)
His playing takes me back to my earlier days. (Johnny Shines, 1990)
He is one of the few players who can really play Robert Johnson Material with conviction and power. (Robert Tilling - Blueprint Magazine 1993)