Chris Duarte and the Road

By Elizabeth A. Webb, 9/00



The Road – every musician, be it Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Itzak Pearlman and even young Wes Jeans, the phenomenon out of Marshall, Texas, knows about the Road. You can travel the Road for a lifetime and never get to your destination. Chris Duarte has been hitting the road for over 14 years. He's known success; he's known failure. He's loved; he's lost; he's found. He's given all to his art. In return, he's been blessed. Some shows, he's so on that it's known that the hand of God is brushing the sweat away from his eyes. Ask the many fans who travel hours, and sometimes days, to attend his shows, "What is it that convinces you to make a trip like that?" They'll tell you, "It's Chris!" You can't put a label on Chris. Jazz, funk, blues, rock, classical... he plays it all. And he takes it all on the road. The Road, that everpresent, unrelenting breaker of the human body and spirit. Recently, Chris returned from a tour on the road which took him over ten thousand miles in just over three weeks. He traveled from Texas to New York, down the east coast, up and over to Washington State, down to Utah, over to Illinois and finally, back home to Austin, Texas. We were able to sit down and talk about how he has managed to survive, conquer and control the Road.


Beth – How old were you when you started working on the road?

Chris – Let's see. I guess I was 22 when I first . . . actually, I was 18 when I first started going on the road and that was with Bobby Mack & Night Train and we would just do Texas dates. You'd get this nervous feeling. I remember the first gig I played in Houston, Texas. I was thinking, "Oh, my God! This is a big city here. I'm going to the Big City!" I felt like a country mouse going to the big city. I didn't travel out of Texas 'til I was 22. That was like a big thing to me because, even though Texas is a huge state, you can't wait to get out and play somewhere else. I think the first place I played out of state was, I believe it was Bay Saint Louis. That's over there on the coast of Mississippi. I was in Junior Medlow & The Bad Boys at the time.

Beth – How many years have you been hitting the road?

Chris – I guess, with my band I've been hitting the road for about nine years now and then if you take the combined amount of years I've been touring on the road I guess it'd probably be close to 14.

Beth – On your most recent road trip, how many miles did you travel and what amount of time were you gone? I think you were gone about 3 weeks, weren't you?

Chris – Yea, we were gone a little over 3 weeks. I believe it was about 22 or 23 days and we covered just a little over 10,000 miles.

Beth – Whew! We were kinda following your schedule and thinking, "God, how are they going to make it there?"

Chris – (Laughing) You just get in the van and drive. That's how you do it. You just have to do it. I mean, a lot of 'em were just long drives a day. Bad is when you have a couple of 1,000 mile days in a row, but we didn't have that. We'd always have it broken down at seven something, six something. One day, I think was just a shade over 900.

Beth – Would you travel that far for one show?

Chris – It depends. I mean, on this last tour, I think from Kearney, Nebraska to Chicago for the St. Charles gig, that was about 650. And yes, I've traveled stupider distances between shows. I mean, it's a difference when you have that long to travel and you have to play a show that same day versus having a whole day to get there and you have the whole next day to kinda get there, too, so you can break it up. So, 650 is getting to be respectable. That's when you have to get up early and get moving.

Beth – Do you put off sleep to get there?

Chris – Some nights, yeah. I've found out that a couple of hours of sleep at night is a lot better than just driving right after a gig. I mean, it just seems to go with your body a lot better as you get older. Maybe when we were younger we could do that stuff, but even if you only get back and get only 2 or 3 hours of sleep it's much better. I guess because you keep your body on a normal rhythm if you're still getting a little bit of sleep at night. When you get up you move in the morning.

Beth – Does the road pose any threats to you or your music?

Chris – No, not really. I mean, I'm real good at doing it. The reason I can do it for so long is because I never got into this party mentality. I'm used to the process of being in the van - I've got a book to read, that's fine for me. I drive, and you can listen to something when you drive. I don't think it poses any threat to me. I guess some people would say they stagnate or something. I mean, it used to be that I thought I wasn't getting enough practice time! But as long as I have a book to read, I'm fine.

Beth – Has the road helped you discover yourself?

Chris – It does give you lots of time to think back on things … and digest things … and I guess that's good. You have time to reflect and think things through. So, I would say yeah, it does help you. It helps you mull things over and make decisions and, you know, it makes you take a step back because you're in that van and you can't really do a whole lot. I'm one of these persons that's not on instant communication yet and have a cell phone. Even though Patricia and I want to get one just for us, between us, I don't have one. So I can't just be impulsive and pick up the phone and call somebody, or if I'm mad about something I can't pick it up and do whatever, I have to sit there and think it through before I get to the next stop and call on a pay phone. So, yeah, I think it's good in that it helps you think through some things.

Beth – Where do you want the road to take you?

Chris – Oh, to fame and fortune of course! After traveling it a bunch, I don't see the road as this mystical thing that some people like Kerouac found in it. For me, when I'm on the road working it's just another part of my job. I just have to travel. It's different if I'm going on vacation or when I have Patricia in the van and she hasn't been to a certain region. This last tour was neat because I wanted her to see some of the things I've seen, all the beautiful mountains. Plus, seeing all the fires on the way out there.

Beth – We wondered about that.

Chris – We saw one fire we came pretty close to. I mean, you could see it, it was probably a mile or two off, but you could see the flames covering the trees. And the smoke – some areas, when we were leaving Montana from Bozeman to Salt Lake City, the smoke was so thick I think the visibility was down to about a mile. That's pretty thick because all that is wide open spaces out there. It's not like you're in canyons – this is wide open spaces and it was so thick that visibility was just about a mile. And out there you can usually see 60 to 70 miles it's so clear. It was just so thick. When Patricia saw all this neat stuff I was mainly looking at her face to see what her reaction was. And that's just as neat for me, to see that wonderment on her face. But, for me, it's just part of the job for me.


Beth – Do your friends and family help you or hinder you on the road?

Chris – They help me. They think it's great. And I get to see them more. You know, when I'm up on the East Coast I usually always see Bill, my little brother, or maybe Bart, my older brother, will come out – I got to see them on this last tour when we were up in Virginia near my father's place. My father couldn't make it out, but we're going back there on the Bernard Allison tour and we're gonna be at a place just a couple of miles from my dad's house. I've already talked to him and he said he's coming out to the gig. So, it's really neat that I get to see my family since we're all spread out. So, I think they help. Now, of course, here at home Patricia would like it if I'd stay at home but she knows this is our last couple of years to really make a lot of money at this, doing this. I'm just working with my nose to the grindstone and trying to make as much money as I can.

Beth – Are you getting there?

Chris – Am I getting there? Well, I've been gigging and touring really hard continuously for about nine years without really much of a break at all – always on the go – and what I'm going to do after two years, when Patricia graduates and gets her Masters in business and gets a good job, then I'm gonna put the brakes on and just take a break for a little while. You know, take a break for about six months. You know, sit around and enjoy the time with Patricia. That tour she was on – this last one – is the last one she's gonna' go on. She might attend some next year during the summer, but she might take summer classes to get out faster. But am I getting there musically? No, I feel I'll be chasing that for the rest of my life. And that's a responsibility that I have to myself and to God that gave me this talent. To nurture it and make it better, make myself better – that's what I feel I want to do and it's inside of me. I'm still hungry to be a good musician. I still have high aspirations. Financially, you know, it depends. If I get my own house, you know, I've got plenty of money to be comfortable. I don't have to be filthy rich. It wouldn't be so bad but I just want money to be comfortable and not have to worry about it. You know, that's all I want. I don't need Fort Knox to be happy.

Beth – Have you ever had a revelation on stage, driving or lying in bed?

Chris – Lying in bed, I usually get these little melodies that come to my head, but I'm not one of these guys that jump out of bed and write it down. I think I've maybe done that once or twice in my whole life. I guess in bed I get to think about things, mainly I sorta review the gig in my head and what could I do better and where did I mess up.

Beth – How about spiritually?

Chris – On stage I do, because it's almost a spiritual connection I feel when I'm with the people and I have their energy and I'm expressing myself. You get to explore areas. There are some gigs where things are just so on or the moment is so right where it opens up whole new worlds to you that for some reason internally I go into a whole other world and it's, it's a real peaceful feeling and a very confident feeling. You feel very comfortable there. Those are the main spiritual revelations I have when I'm on stage. It's a Oneness, a Oneness with the people. And it just transcends all religious boundaries and everything. For that moment we're all One right there. We're all one. As far as driving in the van? No, I think it's a little bit sterile for me to inspire me in that type of way, mainly because I'm just trying to get somewhere or I'm reading a book. Although, I did read a large portion of the Old Testament in the van one time. I remember one of our road managers looked at me, I had the New American Bible I was reading, and he saw all the other books I had already read and he said, "Man, you've read all that?!" and I said, "Well, yea! I'm not going to skip a page here and not know what it's talking about there. I mean, there are some really darn good stories in that Bible! But you know, I got through it all. I read it all!

Beth – Who's your favorite Bible character?

Chris – My favorite Bible character? I really like the stories of King David. They told a lot.

Beth – Describe your music in your own words.

Chris – passionate; intense; loud; and delicate at times.

Beth – Do you have a favorite song that you sing?

Chris – You know, it comes and goes in phases. For a while "Walls" was one of my favorite songs. The last time we played it I think was when we played it at the Fox Theatre just a couple of months ago when Erick Tatuaka, one of our old drummers, sat in. He played a great version of it on that "Bandwidth" CD, even though my vocals are just atrocious on that song. I was pretty much still writing that song, probably just making up lyrics really on that recorded version. I just liked the way the drum beat was and so we told him to play it that night and it turned out to be a lot of fun. "Walls" is one of my favorites to sing, and "My Way Down" gets real fun. That was one of our big hits. Let's see, I also like singing "Commit A Crime" when I used to play that tune, or "How Long". There's a bunch of songs I like singing. I like singing all my songs.

Beth – Do you have a favorite song to play?

Chris – To play? I like playing all my songs, but I guess there's nothing like it when I play a really emotional "Shiloh". I really like playing that song. That's just a real emotional song. It's not one of those that could ever be a cookie-cutter song for me, where you just play the same thing all the time. It's so open to interpretation for me that I could pretty much go any way I want. I could play it delicate or play it really aggressive. I really like that song a lot.

Beth – What's the story on "Shiloh"? When did you write that?

Chris – "Shiloh" was pretty much written about the Shiloh Memorial Battlefield, the Civil War battlefield in Tennessee. We used to go there a long time ago. We used to make trips to that battlefield. It's an amazing place. There's "Bloody Pond", where a bunch of soldiers were wounded and dragged themselves to this pond to get a drink and the water was blood red and tainted; there's a mass grave, which isn't that large at all, but there's over 700 Confederate guys buried there. I mean, it's not much bigger or wider than our van! We kept standing on it and thinking, "700 guys are buried here!" It's just an amazing place. All the history there. So that's why I wrote it. Just because it evokes these sorrowful feelings - a lot of emotion - and then I dedicated it to Jimmie and Stevie Vaughan because they inspired me on my technique and stuff. But that's what it was originally written for.

Beth – Is there a song that you absolutely hate to play but the crowd loves?

Chris – It'd probably be "Purple Haze" or "Voodoo Child". In my opinion, you know, Hendrix pretty much did it. He did it and that's the bar to be measured by and not a whole lot of people can play it like that. Stevie came really close and I give my kudos to Stevie because he did a great version. I don't have anything to offer that song. I could play "Red House" more than I could play those two songs or even "Stormy Monday", which every guitar player hates to play!

Beth – Is there a song that you wish you had never learned?

Chris – I'd almost say that about "Smoke On The Water", but no, not really. I like all the songs. I've even played "Joy To The World", that Three Dog Night tune, one time at a gig. It was kinda fun. But there's not a song that I've regretted learning.

Beth – Do you find differences in the audiences across the United States?

Chris – Yeah, there are differences. Although I feel like I have probably, on average, an older crowd, late twenties to early forties, I'm starting to get a lot of young kids. It seems like in the big cities I seem to get a larger percentage of younger people in the big city. It seems like the Southern States, the lower Southern States, I get more of the older crowd.

Beth – How about attitude?

Chris – Attitude? The Yankees! I just consider Yankees anyone in the Northeast, New Yorkers, and also Detroit. Some of the real blue collar towns: Pittsburgh, some parts of New York, upper state of New England, they're pretty much meat and potatoes and they like to see the effort you put into your music. They're not snooty about it. Some people would rather hear traditional blues, especially if you show up at a blues show and they want to hear you sound like Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters, which is going to be impossible to do. I mean, that's Muddy and Wolf for God's sake! Nobody else can do it like them. But they just seem to get their hair rubbed the wrong way. I think the traditionalists are mainly in the Midwest. But I've been starting to win them over recently, which is cool because sometimes I really get upset when I go to a blues show and someone is screaming out, "Blues!! Blues!! I want blues!!" And just because of that one person, I make everybody suffer and don't play any blues! I just get more and more hard edged and more hard edged, and uh, that's probably one of my faults. I should just let it flow, because I think when you put energy toward being vengeful, it's energy wasted. Energy is much more productive when it's used for a positive thing.

Beth – Do you do a different show for different regions?

Chris – Yeah, I do. Like in Salt Lake City, a lot of people dance. That place will immediately start packing the dance floor like the second song or even the first song. And so, a lot of times I'll play a lot of dance material for them. They might want to dance more softly, more shuffles, just more blues-oriented stuff. At some places the vibe, the vibe in the club is sort of bluesy or earthy and so I'll play, I'll extend the guitar solos a little. I'll play "How Long" and extend the guitar solo or "Shiloh" or something. Some places want more rock, so I'll play "Monkey Food", "Metaphor" and more Hendrixy and guitar rock-driven stuff. Yeah, I do play different shows for different regions. It's not the same show every time and I think that's a lot of the reason why I get people that drive Grateful Dead mileage, you know, to follow the tour - they know it's not going to be the same show next time.

Beth – Do you listen to your audience?

Chris – Yes, I do listen to my audience. Whether they know it or not, I do listen to them. I do. At some point you have to - you can't take it to heart too seriously because there are some nights where I just feel that I've played the worst that I've ever played in my whole life. And some people, even some people that have seen me, you know, eight, nine, ten times, they come up and they go, "Man, I've never seen you play with more intensity. My God! That was the greatest show!" And I know they're probably cueing into my struggle that I'm having with the music and with the gig, and then some other nights people are just blasé about it, "Oh yea, it was really cool, Man. You sounded real tight." And I really felt like things flowed really well. So, sometimes you gotta step back. I guess that's my reflection time back in the hotel. I just sit back and reflect on it and see what I really liked about it and if there was something good. I'll listen back to tapes of my performance. That helps, too.

Beth – Do you know how good you are!? Your work is amazing to me!

Chris – Aw – what I'm doing is probably a lot simpler than what you think I'm doing! I remember listening to Joe Pass. Joe Pass was one of my guitar heroes, he's this virtuoso jazz guitarist, and he always said, "Do the simple approach. Don't try to do any hard fingering. You're just gonna create aches." You know, just do it real simple. I bet you anything I'm doing something really simple. It's not that hard. There's something I remember when I was teaching, I had been asked to go do this seminar at this famous guitar place in Connecticut and this woman was out there kind of acting like a giddy fan and she says, "I saw you in Dallas and you played these blues rhythms a hundred different ways and you played all these rhythms! How are you doing that? What are you doing?" I didn't know how to answer. It was pretty much, "Ah, well, you know, I'm just practicing and I just hear certain things and I'm just doing it, you know. I can't say there's a certain technique I'm doing." And she felt kind of stupid – she was, "Oh, I guess you're right – practice more." And so then later in the day I found out that was Mike Stern's wife, Leni Stern, who's a great guitar player in her own right and I freaked out because, I think, "You're Leni Stern! My God!" And Mike Stern's like another one of my big heroes, you know, and I just couldn't believe she was acting just like a real giddy fan, you know? So, I don't know what the relevancy of the whole story is, I guess I amaze all kinds of people, but when it comes down to it I'm just doing normal things and trying to take the most simple approach at playing things. Sometimes when I'm playing I think I should really practice on this one part because I'm doing this real simple thing and if it's so simple then everybody would be doing it and I want to do something that really sounds good! When I hear people on the radio, I'll hear this certain lick Stevie plays or a lick Pat Metheny plays … but I don't want to be a Stevie-tribute fan. It's my interpretation of it and the way I want to do it and the way I think I could contribute to it. And that's what I do with Hendrix's stuff and that's what I do with everybody's stuff. I'm just trying to put my interpretation on the way I hear it, the way I want to hear it come out. And that's what I'm doing.

Beth – So you're just an ordinary guitar player, huh?

Chris – Yes, I am. I really am. I'm ordinary. I guess I have this special gift. But I'm really just an ordinary guy.

Beth – Is the road addictive?

Chris – At one time it was addictive. You just couldn't wait to get out of town and get back on the road and do your thing because every day was a little different when you're out there. Every day is really different, that's what I like about being on the road. And when you're at home you get entrenched in the same old thing and, you know, it doesn't have the same vibe. But now with my situation and I think with everybody's situation, even John's situation, his daughter growing up and him hanging out with her more and me being around Patricia more, and I just love being around the house with her more, it's changed for me. But when you're a young man, yes, the road is addictive. But if you're gonna go out there and be a party demon, I can tell you right now that most of the bands we saw that were party demons didn't stay out too long. We wouldn't see them three years down the road or even two years. A lot of times you wouldn't see them the next year! They were gone.

Beth – When you're on the road and you're feeling lost and low, who and what do you think about?

Chris – Well, I just get on the phone with Patricia and I feel a little bit better. Or I talk to people on the road. I have so few people that I talk to.

Beth – Have you thought of staying home, playing local venues and writing more?

Chris – You know, I could probably do it. That's probably what I'll be doing when I take a break. I'm still writing. I still have other songs to do for the next album. But local venues just don't turn me on that much around Austin. Maybe doing a Texas circuit. That's not so bad. But I'm a professional. As long as I don't have to play a Holiday Inn and play a sappy version of "Satin Doll" or something! I told Patricia if that ever happens to me just sneak up behind me and shoot me in the back of the head because I'm dead already. I've seen musicians like that. They have a lounge act going and they're playing a sappy-assed "Satin Doll", you know? It's just – Uugghh!

Beth – What else can they do though? I mean, if things aren't going for them, what are they supposed to do?

Chris – Well, you know, you're just going to have to get a job! But believe me, I would still play – I would still take an aggressive approach to it and I'd still be stretching for things no matter what musical situation I'm thrown into. I remember we did this gig when we were playing this happy hour gig at this club in Dallas. We played the night gig, this was with Junior Medlow & The Bad Boys, and you played jazz like through the cocktail hour and happy hour and then from 9:00-12:00 you play the regular gig. So, we're really looking forward to playing the jazz stuff. We've got a great jazz bass player and we have our keyboard player that's a great jazz pianist and it's me and this other bass player that's really well-versed in it, but the keyboard player can't make it. So he hires a guy from the union to sub that's a really good jazz pianist. He comes to the gig and he's obviously one of these guys that just goes into a gig and just plays what's necessary and doesn't really stretch out. It was so funny because we played this Horace Silver tune, "Song For My Father", first song, and right off the bat all of us are going for it, you know, and he looks back at us after the first song and goes, "Hey Guys, you know, we don't have to work so hard! Take it easy." But then he made it a lot of fun because he realized we were just young guns wanting to show our stuff, so he got into it and started picking harder songs and made it a lot of fun. It was so funny when he leaned back after that first song and said, "Guys! Guys! Take it easy here!" And that's my philosophy. I'm not gonna take it easy. I'm gonna play hard. I'm gonna try to stretch for things. I'm gonna try to say something new.

Beth – Have you ever been tempted to sell out?

Chris – Oh sure – sure. I mean, in a way, this last album is, it's a little bit of a compromise. Number One, it's compromised because, I mean, if it were up to me I would still be stretching for really far out things and, you know, just exploring different avenues. But on the other hand, I know I need to make money to survive in this and to carry on in this endeavor and to carry on this lifestyle of going on the road, so instead of me going extremely to the left, and I can't, I can't sort of sell myself out and go all the way to the right, I try to find a happy medium and I feel I have found a happy medium with this new album. I feel it's got integrity to it that appeals to the masses. And that's what I wanted. And I know it's my style. I couldn't sell out. I don't have to. You know, if I have this huge note I have to make and I've got this sure-fire way to do it, I don't have a sure-fire way to sell out. So, I'm not gonna compromise my integrity because of it. I guess some people would do it because the money would be so great. The only way I would do it was if the money was that much of a compensatory exchange for selling out.

Beth – You'd do it for money?

Chris – Yea, well, some people would do it. And, I mean, if it's to make my life more comfortable and then drop out, what I would do if I made that much money, then I would drop out of the big music business and then just strictly do my own thing – which is what would be my master plan all along. Once you get a huge hit and you make a lot of money, then fine, I quit this big corporate business. I'm doing whatever I want to do now. And if that means I'm making Aeolian and wind harp albums, then so be it. You know, wind chimes – I want to play wind chimes now!

Beth – Which would be the higher honor – to play for the President of the United States or to play for the Pope?

Chris – Wow, that's a tough one! With me being Catholic . . .I would probably have to say to play for the Pope. That would mean more to me inside. But, for my country of course, it would be the President. But if I was offered those two gigs on the same day I would definitely go for the Vatican! No doubt about it. It would feel like the right thing, too.

Beth – Your music is universal – would you go on the road to Israel, Turkey, Egypt or other countries?

Chris – Darn straight, I would! Heck, yea! Spread my music everywhere? No problem! I'd go to Borneo and all those crazy little islands. No problem! As long as they have an electrical outlet, and if they don't I'll take an acoustic! I'd love to travel the world.

Beth – Will you ever take a sabbatical and write music?

Chris – Yes, that will come. That'll come probably when Patricia graduates. I will definitely take a sabbatical and I'll write all kinds of music.

Beth – Have you ever thought of writing sacred music?

Chris – Yeah, I probably would immerse myself into that music. I would probably try to write the type of music that Bach wrote and Mozart wrote for the churches and stuff. I have so much reverence and respect for that music that I just can't say, "Oh, I can write that type of music." I would probably delve into it and try to really learn it, immerse myself in it so I can write something good. And yes, I would love to write that. I mean, I'd love to write gospel music, too. I've already gotten some gospel songs that I've never put on a CD or anything and Junior wrote some words for it. It's called "Take It To The Lord" and once in a while I'll play it. Once in a while. It's a really nice tune. But I wouldn't mind writing gospel music. It's got a beat to it.

Beth – Maybe the Catholic Church is a good vehicle to get your music put out or whatever.

Chris – Yeah, I think it's a good outlet, too. In fact, I wouldn't mind going into a church and seeing if I can play some music during their services. I've been in a lot of Catholic churches that have music. I come from the days when they didn't have music in Catholic churches. But lately I've been seeing a lot of churches that do. Sometimes I just want to be like a technical advisor, "Come on, let's tune that guitar up just a little bit better here." "Let's get this PA sounding better here." "Let's really bring it out – make it sound really good." But, I wouldn't mind being in it and playing.

Beth – I've thought about seeing if you could come to our church and play.

Chris – Oh, I'd be honored to come to your church and play! But, I wouldn't want to deviate from the service music. I would just like to sit there with all the other guitar players and just play along with 'em and sort of help contribute to the sound.

Beth – What about just you on the stage presenting the music?

Chris – Well, you know I did play "Amazing Grace" for Patricia's grandfather's funeral. I opened up the service and played it. I remember when I first came into the funeral home, I'm bringing in one of my Vibro Kings, it's kind of a big amp, and I've got my Hamiltone with me, it's got my name on the neck, and they're looking at me, dubious about what I'm going to do. I kept telling myself, "It'll be ok. It'll be all right." And sure enough, when I opened it up it was a real nice, little quiet version that I played for them. And that's, you know, I mean, I'm sensitive to the kind of surroundings I'm in. It's not like I'll blare out, get down and do the splits and wag my tongue or anything like that! I just did this nice delicate little instrumental version of it and it was a really good time.

Beth – If you could never play again, what would you say or do?

Chris – If I could never play again? You mean what could I do besides playing, what would I do? If I could never play again and I decided to quit music, for some reason taken away from me and I wasn't able to do it, I'd ask if I can go work in computers to work on viruses. Something to help people out, it'd be something to help people and alleviate their fear. I think viruses are a deviate sort of element out there in the computer world and I would try to figure out those things and disengage them and learn how to take them apart. Find some cure. I know there's gotta be some kind of cure because the computer's just an insanely logical thing. And I know there's some kind of cure out there. So, that's what I actually thought about doing when I take a break, take some computer courses and just work on viruses. But I've gotta do all this other stuff. I mean, I wouldn't mind traveling or something like that, but I would be too inspired or moved to music when I'd see some beautiful landscape and have something happen to me. But if I was just to do a strictly logical thing where it's just circles and squares and numbers, it would be working on viruses on computers. Or be a Shakespearean actor! I've often laughed about that, too. I wanted to go off and join some Shakespeare troupe and start working. Start small time. Be the little water boy that just comes on and brings a vase of water or something and work my way up. I have thought about that. I wouldn't mind trying to act and then looking at a tape of myself. I've seen a lot of really good actors in their early tapes and they're just so wooden! I know that's how I'd be like, real wooden. It would be just something fun for me to do. And if I happen to be some hammy Shakespearean actor, like William Shatner is, you know, Captain Kirk! I just love that guy. I just think that would be hilarious. And I'd have a lot of fun doing it.

Beth – What bothers you?

Chris – What bothers me is people and musicians that don't take music seriously. They play it halfheartedly and that bothers me. It's not that it's taken seriously. I mean, that it's played with no heart. Their hearts are not into it. And that bothers me. That's just like the kind of guy in a lounge act, you know, and you're just mowing the lawn – you're just paying the rent is all you're doing. And child abuse bothers me, you know, and sexual predation bothers me, you know, and cat-calling women bothers me. There's a lot of things, there's too many things, you know? Destroying the rainforest bothers me. Air pollution bothers me. Lake pollution bothers me, you know. Poaching bothers me. No respect for other people's cultures bothers me. Just do the right thing. People doing the wrong thing bothers me.

Beth – What is the most important thing in your life?

Chris – Most important thing in my life right now, I'd guess, would be my sanity and my happiness here with Patricia and Celeste, and providing a secure future for myself and my family. My music is like a close second. I know a lot of people thought when I was a younger person I would have said my music. But my music actually walks hand in hand with that, but the music probably runs a close second.

Beth – Do you believe God has a plan for you?

Chris – You know, I think He does. And I think it might be music right now. And it might be bringing the message to people or it might be making people feel better at a time when they need to feel better or when they feel bad. And I feel like I do that for a lot of people. Many people have come up and told me that. A lot of people look at me as an inspiration and I think that's a good thing. Some think of me as, you know, one of their heroes, and I think that's a good thing, too, but I'm not an idol. I don't feel I'm an idol to anybody. I think a lot of people look at me as someone that's overcome a lot of strife and hardship, and has still managed to move forward. I think God wants me to be that example for a lot of people to do better. And, hopefully, to do the right thing. And that's why I want to play emotional music. To make people feel good. I probably haven't handed my life over to Him like some people have, but I do, I do worry about His opinion. And I, sometimes I do wonder what He thinks … if I'm doing the right thing.

Beth – Do you ever just give in and let destiny take over?

Chris – Sometimes, yes. But very few times. I feel I have to shape my destiny and the outcome. I will take whatever outcome comes out of that.

Beth – When you're at the end of your road and you're at the Golden Gates, who do you want to come let you in?

Chris – Well, I hope it's St. Peter, but I'd like to see my mom there. I miss her and I'd like to see her again.

Beth – Well, it looks like we've reached the end of the road!

Chris – And to that question about playing with the President – sure - tell him he's got an open invitation to come jam anytime. Tell him to bring his sax! Come jam anytime!