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Chris Masterson & Eleanor Whitmore

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With Sideshow Tramps, 10 p.m. Friday, December 19, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.

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Anyone who saw 13-year-old Chris Masterson shredding a Strat at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge or Big Easy in the late '80s probably had a clue the little guy was going to grow to have some serious stature in the world of guitars. And Masterson hasn't disappointed, although I'd bet few who saw the young blueshound throwing sparks back in the day ever thought Masterson would move closer to alternative country than Johnny Winter's brand of tear-the-strings-off blues-rock. But after touring constantly for over a decade with Jack Ingram, Hank III, Bare Jr. and now Son Volt, Masterson steps out occasionally on his own (or at least with his significant other, violinist/vocalist Eleanor Whitmore). Masterson has also been recording, and quiet tracks like the beautiful "Digging for Icicles" sound like Ryan Adams songs in his Whiskeytown days. In fact, Masterson has done a masterful job of producing himself by keeping any possible guitar excesses in check in favor of his lyrics and voice. Masterson, who recently produced local hero John Evans's new Lucky 13, shows plenty of guitar savvy on thickly layered tracks like "Collapsible Plans" and perky rocker "The Only One." It's great to see that skinny kid who grew up in an amp shop step forward on his own and fulfill his destiny with such artistry and grace.

 
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