Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Don’t Call Me Dude

music_LesDudek1Choppin’ it up with guitar ace Les Dudek - GT Online exclusive
It can’t be easy having a last name that’s just one letter away from “Dude.” Before they’ve even met you, some people are going to picture you as a longhaired, Harley-riding type, who plays air guitar to Steve Miller’s Fly Like an Eagle album between bong rips.

If that’s the image that comes to your mind when you hear the name Les Dudek, you’re off the mark. Yes, Dudek is longhaired. And yes, he’s been known to ride a Harley. But this guy actually played guitar on Fly Like an Eagle and a few other Steve Miller albums.


He’s also an ex-member of Steppenwolf, a former backup player for this year’s Blues Fest headliner Boz Scaggs, and the co-writer of The Allman Brothers “Ramblin’ Man” (his acoustic guitar kicks off the song). He used to make music and romance with Cher, and he appeared in the 1984 movie Mask as a biker named Bone.

In short, Les isn’t just some dude—he’s the dude.

Nearly as impressive as the gigs Dudek has taken, is the list of opportunities he’s turned down: Were it not for prior commitments, he’d have been a member of Journey, The Marshall Tucker Band and/or Bob Dylan’s backup band. “There was a while there when guitar players were dyin’, and I was always getting a call,” says Dudek, whose last name derives from the Slavic duda, meaning street musician. “When Duane Allman died, I got the call. When the guy from Chicago shot himself in the head and killed himself, I got the call. When Lowell George [of Little Feat] died, I got the call. It’s amazing when I think about all the gigs that I turned down over the years because I was knee-deep in doin’ another project. It’s like, where are those projects now? ’Cause I got the time!”

Not that Dudek isn’t busy with a fruitful solo career. A fine guitarist by anyone’s standards, he covers an impressive amount of musical ground with his solo offerings, all the while managing to stay within the southern blues-rock genre. He’s currently mixing a new album featuring various songs he describes as “Hendrix meets Spencer Davis,” “Foreigner meets Van Halen” and “Dwight Yoakam meets Steve Miller.”

Yet Dudek’s versatility may be his downfall: He laments that in America, the only truly marketable styles are hip-hop and country. “You go to Europe, and it’s different,” he says. “I mean, it’s like the old America: you have jazz audiences, blues audiences, rock audiences. You can still do what you do, and there’ll be an audience there that will appreciate you.”

The guitarist acquiesces that there is a market for blues music in America, but he’s quick to note that even this has narrowed. “They’ve gotten really stickler with that to make it really a traditional kind of blues. You have to be a traditional 1-4-5 blues player to fit into that,” he says. “The blues places always call me rock; the jazz places always call me blues or rock.”

How does he classify his music?  “I’m more of a white man’s blues—I’m more from the Allman Brothers/Cream kind of days, where it’s kind of electric blues, like the way Johnny Winter used to be, or like Stevie Ray Vaughan,” he offers, adding that this sort of music is a rarity nowadays. “That bluesy, white man’s kind of music—southern rock, blues rock or whatever—kind of merged into country, it seems. Sometimes when I listen to some of the country that’s coming out of Nashville, the music sounds like something off a southern rock record, but it’s sung more country—with a twang, you know?”

Dudek will swing by The Catalyst Atrium on Wednesday to remind us all what twang-free, southern-fried rock ‘n’ roll is all about. As he puts it, “I like to rock, man!”

Les Dudek plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12/adv, $16/door. For more information, call 423-1338.


Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


At Clothes Range

FashionART’s 10th anniversary show introduces a new generation of designers on the edge


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


If whales have a message for humans, what might it be?

“Do not come in the water and join us.” Howard Hall, Santa Cruz, Retired


Wargin Wines

The wine world is buzzing about this Pinot Gris