Sunday, July 13, 2014

Les Dudek at Hill Country Barbecue Market

Six years after Les Dudek was born in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, his father retired from the Navy and the family moved to Florida where he grew up. He built a reputation as a proficient guitar player, and after a fellow Florida musician, Duane Allman, was killed in a motorcycle accident, Dudek was invited to record with the Allman Brothers Band. He played guitar harmonies with Dickey Betts on "Ramblin' Man" and the intro acoustic guitar on "Jessica." Dudek became a guitarist for Boz Scaggs and the Steve Miller Band, so Dudek moved to California. Dudek was invited to play in the original Journey but declined in order to record as a solo artist, and moved to West Hollywood in the mid-1970s. He collaborated with Cher, Stevie Nicks and others. His public persona then went silent as he worked for NBC, ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports, and E! Entertainment Television. He can be heard on many television series, including Friends. He has since relocated back to Florida and his seventh and most recent solo album is 2013's Delta Breeze.

Les Dudek seemed like a promising artist during the heyday of southern rock, but after the genre faded, his name disappeared into obscurity. Nevertheless, his guitar playing has not waned. Tonight before a small audience at Hill Country Barbecue Market, Dudek led a guitar-bass-drums trio through a bluesy rock jam. When singing well-written southern-rock-sounding songs, Dudek played exacting rhythm chords over a basic driving beat, but as soon as he backed off the microphone his fret dancing and aggressive guitar attack took over. Dudek played full and rich single-string leads tirelessly on his Fender Stratocaster with sweet, melodic phrasing. He slipped on a bottleneck for a few songs and played slide as well. The Allman Brothers Band will be needing a spectacular guitarist soon; that band would do well to revisit Les Dudek.

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