In a world of blues guitar pretenders, Coco Montoya is the real McCoy. He exudes power and authenticity. Be prepared to get scorched by the real thing.
Master guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya, touring in support of his most recent Alligator album, Can't Look Back, will perform live in Philadelphia. Montoya, a ten-year veteran of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and protégé of Albert Collins, ranks among the top-drawing and best-selling artists on the blues-rock scene. On Can't Look Back, Montoya blends fiery rockers with aching soul and funky rhythms, using blues as a blasting off point for his searing and rocking music. Concert information is as follows:
Wednesday, November 10th:
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut St.
Ticket Price: TBA
Produced by Jim Gaines (Luther Allison, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan), every one of the 13 songs on Can't Look Back (including five Montoya originals) is played with deep feeling and ferocious energy. From the opening notes of Wish I Could Be That Strong" to the passionate Trip, Stumble And Fall" to the ear-catching Can't Look Back" to the reinvention of Albert Collins' Same Old Thing," Montoya brings all the power of his acclaimed live shows into the studio for a blues-rocking tour-de-force.
Born in Santa Monica, California in 1951 and raised by working class parents with a large record collection, Montoya's interest in music began early. In 1969, Montoya saw Albert King opening up a Creedence Clearwater Revival / Iron Butterfly concert, and was transformed. After Albert got done playing," says Montoya, my life was changed. When he played, the music went right into my soul. It grabbed me so emotionally that I had tears welling up in my eyes. Nothing had ever affected me to this level. He showed me what music and guitar playing were all about. I knew that was what I wanted to do."
By the mid-1970s, Montoya whose first instrument was drums was playing in several local rock bands, one of which played a small Culver City, California bar on weekends. One Sunday Albert Collins was booked to play a matinee there and the club owner gave Collins permission to use Montoya's drums without first asking Montoya. When Albert heard that Montoya was upset, he called Coco at the club to apologize and invited the young drummer to his show. Coco saw Albert's performance and was blown away. But he never expected what happened next.
A few months later, Albert desperately needed a drummer for a tour of the Northwest, and he called Coco. After the tour ended, Montoya remained in Collins' band for five more years. It was during this time that Coco began doubling on guitar. And Collins went out of his way to mentor his new protégé. As Montoya's guitar playing improved, his relationship with Collins kept growing. He was like a father to me," says Coco, who often slept at Collins' house. When Collins declared Montoya his son, it was the highest praise and affection he could offer.
As disco began to take over and gigs began to dry up, Montoya left Collins' band, but the two stayed very close friends. Coco kept playing guitar ("I had plenty of time on my hands," he recalls) and eventually others took note of his prowess. One night in the early 1980s, Montoya was jamming in a Los Angeles bar when John Mayall walked in. As a quick tribute, Montoya launched into All Your Love I Miss Loving." Impressed, Mayall left the club with a soundboard tape. When Mayall needed a guitarist for the newly reformed Bluesbreakers, he called Coco Montoya. Montoya spent the next ten years with Mayall, emerging as a scalding hot player with chops to burn.
By the early 1990s, Montoya was at another crossroads. He had been with the Bluesbreakers for ten years and felt ready for a change. With words of advice from Collins, Montoya set off on a solo career. His debut as a leader, 1995's Gotta Mind To Travel (originally on Silvertone Records in England and later issued on Blind Pig Records), became an instant favorite with blues fans, radio programmers and critics. In 1996, he was nominated for four W.C. Handy Awards, and walked away with the award for Best New Blues Artist. Montoya's follow-up, 1996's Ya Think I'd Know Better (Blind Pig), showcased a feral blues rocker with vocal skills matched only by his ferocious guitar playing. 1997's Just Let Go (Blind Pig) continued to showcase Montoya's steely guitar licks and intense vocals. His 2000 debut for Alligator, Suspicion, quickly became the best-selling album of his career, with over 130 radio stations spinning the disc.
Averaging over 200 tour dates a year, Montoya packs clubs and theaters around the world. He has played major festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival and Canada's International Jazz Festival. Montoya is at the forefront of the contemporary blues world," declared Guitar World. With Can't Look Back and continued non-stop touring, Coco Montoya will be there for a long time to come.