Living Blues Issue #209
Living Blues Issue #209
Chris Beard’s third CD, “Live Wire”,
You could say that Chris Beard likes to play guitar -- the
(Chris Nickson, All Music)
|"I was five years old and I'd figured out|
Green Onions," Chris Beard says, recalling his first
musical steps on a hot, hazy summer day in Rochester, New York.
"My mom was, like, astounded. 'Joe, look at him! He's playing!'
He wasn't even amazed. He was like, 'Mary, the kid's five years
old. What do you expect?' It was like, "he should have been
doing that when he was two." Not long after Green Onions
, his father, bluesman Joe Beard, gave Chris his first guitar.
"It was a Les Paul copy. We got instruments for Christmas.
My brother Duane got drums. I got guitar." Today, four decades
later, a Les Paul is still Chris' main guitar. And Chris sees
not only humor in his dad's reaction , but also evidence of his
expectations for his son even then. "It was like he already
knew it was there...It wasn't surprising to him." With two
CD's-one of which was nominated in 1998 for a W.C. Handy Award-a
schedule that keeps him on the road most of the year, Chris Beard
is fulfilling his father's expectations.
At mid-afternoon, the Humidex was hitting its
Chris Beard dazzles the audience with his guitar
Chris Beard took the first step of his musical
|Chris didn't have to go very far to|
catch up with the blues; he heard them nearly every day, as his
father is Joe Beard, who has, in a long, round about way, finally
gathered the acclaim that should have been his much earlier. "I
grew up in a household with blues-Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins,
and that kind of stuff-that's what was heard on records all the
time. My father is a traditional player, and he's real picky about
keeping it really simple. I inherited some of that, even though
my blues are more in a modern style and at a higher energy level
than his. The idea of keeping it simple still rings true. Dad
is proud that I picked the blues to play, but he's probably be
more content if I stayed more traditional. My father's really,
really laid back, and I'm more outspoken with my playing, more
aggressive. I grew up in the Mowtown era, and I can't help but
be influenced by some of the music. When I was younger, I used
to play real fast, real mannish, and he'd say, 'slow down some
there, boy,' I guess that's still with me."
were some great surprises to the summer like when Chris Beard
came to Union Street Station in August while touring in support
of his JSP records release Born To Play The Blues. The
250 in attendance were awestruck by Beard's hard driving guitar
playing. In fact, Beard, in the middle of his show, walked out
of the club while playing his guitar and stood in the middle of
the street and played for two minutes attracting a crowd. Many
followed Beard back into Union street Station where he proceeded
to jam for two hours. Remember the name because you will be hearing
from New York's Chris Beard regularly.
(Richard A. Coates, Big City Blues Magazine)
first player to kick thing off was WNY's own Chris Beard. The
Handy nominee, looking cool in reflective shades and white pants,
brought along his new, excellent 5-piece band, with sax and keyboards.
His rendition of Drowning On Dry Land provoked cheers
in the midst of the song, as well as his trip out into the crowd.
He introduced some fine new ones that will soon be out on CD and
mentioned that he'd learned that his native Rochester, NY had
just been mauled by an ice storm. "I'm movin' down here-y'all
make room for me!"
(Sharon Schneider, Blues Beat Magazine)
Beard plays the blues as if his pants were on fire. His fleet
fretwork is deadly, often reducing his guitar to five, four, and
sometimes three strings before the song is through.
His blues have plenty of soul and sweat and show no signs of
But this past summer Rochester's "Prince of the Blues"
"I do everything as far as my career goes," Beard
On June 7, Beard had a mild stroke.
"I woke up at 9 o'clock in the morning," he says.
Beard ignored it and set about his day. He ran errands, including
"I went to fill out my name and I couldn't," he says.
Beard spent three days in the hospital. The stroke affected
He had just released Live Wire, his third release and first
Determined not to lose any of his hard-earned momentum, Beard
"I was going to therapy and stuff," he says. "And
So Beard dropped the second guitar player.
"Finally I said: Look, I gotta do this myself,'' he says.
Today, the 48-year-old bluesman says he's recovered 90 percent
"I've turned a negative into a positive." he says.
It came. And how.
"But somewhere along the line of me speeding, trying to
"So me being in a place where my right hand wouldn't keep
Beard continues to tour. His annual schedule is back to where
He refers to his stroke as a "wake-up call from God"
"When you get to one level, you realize you can't stop
And he'll prove it, too. He plans on releasing an all studio
"My speed is back," he says, "with that slow
Beard was nominated for a 1998 W.C. Handy Blues Award in the category
of Best New Blues Artist.
received the 1999 Muddy waters Award in the category of New Talent
Of The Year.