The Center For The Arts Presents Coco Montoya
Friday, December 15th 8:00 PM Main Stage Theatre
“Montoya is a show-stopper…Heartfelt singing and merciless guitar with a wicked icy burn…he swings like a jazz man and stings like the Iceman, Albert Collins. He is one of the truly gifted blues artists of his generation.” – Living Blues
The old Willie Dixon adage, “blues is truth,” perfectly describes the searing, contemporaryblues-rock of world-renowned guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya.Taught by the “Master of the Telecaster,” Albert Collins, but with a hard-edged sound and style all his own, Montoya mixes his forceful, melodic guitar playing and passionate vocals with memorable songs, delivering the blues’ hardest truths. He earned his status as a master guitarist and soul-powered vocalist through years of paying his dues as a sideman with Collins (first as a drummer) and then with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, before launching his solo career in 1993. Five years of constant touring with Collins and ten years with Mayall turned him into a monster player and dynamic performer. Montoya has released eight solo albums—including three for Alligator between 2000 and 2007—and hasplayed at clubs, concert halls and major festivals all over the world. Guitar Playersays Montoya plays “stunning, powerhouse blues with a searing tone, emotional soloing, and energetic, unforced vocals.”
Returning to Alligator with his new album, Hard Truth, Montoya delivers one career-topping performance after another, the music immediately ranking among the best he’s ever recorded. Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel (Eric Burdon, Curtis Salgado, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt), the album features eleven songs, each delivering a hard truth of its own. From the radio-friendly, gospel-inspired celebration of love, I Want To Shout About It, to the haunting Devil Don’t Sleepto the icy-hot cover of Albert Collins’ The Moon Is Full, Hard Truthcovers a lot of emotional ground. Montoya’s unpredictable guitar playing and smoking soul vocals blend effortlessly with a backing band featuring renowned musicians including bassist Bob Glaub (Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis), keyboardist Mike Finnigan (Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Taj Mahal), guitarists Billy Watts (Eric Burdon) and Johnny Lee Schell (Bonnie Raitt), and Braunagel on drums. Slide guitar master Lee Roy Parnell guests on Lost In The Bottle.
Henry “Coco” Montoya was born in Santa Monica, California, on October 2, 1951, and raised in a working class family. Growing up, Coco immersed himself in his parents’ record collection. He listened to big band jazz, salsa, doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll. His first love was drums; he acquired a kit at age 11. He got a guitar two years later. “I’m sure the Beatles had something to do with this,” Montoya recalls. “I wanted to make notes as well as beats.” But guitar was his secondary instrument. Montoya turned his love of drumming into his profession, playing in a number of area rock bands while still in his
teens and eventually becoming an in-demand drummer.
In 1969, Montoya saw Albert King opening up a Creedence Clearwater Revival/Iron Butterfly concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. He 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 playing the blues were all about. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
“Stratocaster-fueled, fierce slash-and-burn guitar work…dramatic, smoldering Southern soul-rooted intensity. Montoya’s voice is as expressive as his guitar.” – Washington Post