Legendary blues-rock guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya celebrates his return to Alligator Records and the release of his new CD, “Hard Truth,” with a live performance Aug. 26 at the Cultura Event Center in Tacoma. 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 10 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 has played at clubs, concert halls and major festivals all over the world. Guitar Player says Montoya plays “stunning, powerhouse blues with a searing tone, emotional soloing, and energetic, unforced vocals.”
In the 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 Sleep” to the icy-hot cover of Albert Collins’ “The Moon Is Full,” “Hard Truth” covers 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.”
Still an indefatigable road warrior, Montoya continues to pack clubs and theaters around the world and brings festival audiences to their feet from New York to New Orleans to Chicago to San Francisco. Across the globe, he’s performed in countries including Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, England, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic and Canada. Vintage Guitar says, “Coco just keeps getting better and better … rockin’ blues with guitar that cuts straight to the heart of the matter. His guitar playing is funky and blistering; it’s perfect. Whatever he plays, he does with fire and passion rarely seen in this day and age.”
Opening for Montoya is the Stacy Jones Band. Stacy Jones is the winner of the 2015 IMEA (International Music and Entertainment Association) award for Best Blues Song “Can’t Do Nothin’ Right” off her newest album “Whiskey, Wine, & Water.” She is continually nominated for “Best of the Blues” awards in songwriting, performance, harmonica, guitar and vocalist of the year.
The show is Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. at the Cultura Events Center, 5602 S Washington St., Tacoma. Advance tickets are $26.50. For information visit culturaeventcenter.com.