Robert Cray is one good reason to make the Aptos pilgrimage. Here are four more.
Santa Cruz Blues Festival 2005
If you are anything like me, you always wonder who those guys backing up the singer are. Marvin Gaye is great, but who arranged those tunes for the band? Just who else plays in Santana? Apparently one of them is named Curtis Salgado. After stints with Carlos' and Robert Cray's groups, this veteran touring musician has stepped out from behind the shredders to take his rightful place at center stage. He tweaks the harmonica around with a form of agility bordering on violence. Fresh off the release of his latest record, Strong Suspicion, he is finally able to show the world just how gritty and soulful the mouth harp can actually be. (Peter Koht)
The blues had a baby and they called it rock & roll, according to Muddy Waters. But who was the father? Not the one on the birth certificate (sucker) but the one that was in town for one sweaty night and then gone. Probably jazz. What a one trick pony. After all, there are only really two jazz songs, Rhythm Changes and the Blues. Chris Cain knows and loves both of them. Unafraid of getting all chromatic on our asses, Cain weaves lines in and around the changes that will call to mind some other soulful players like Charles Earland and Grant Green. Not another suit-wearing, one-set-playing gimp, Cain is notorious for his rowdy shows that feature not only originals, but also juked-up versions of Albert King and Ray Charles tunes. (PK)
The Chop Tops should take lessons from this man. While our local greasers are top-notch rockabillies and general bad asses, Popa has the true King of Brooklyn attitude. Weighing in at about 300 pounds and a veteran of poet Richard Hell's backup band, Popa is not someone to mess with--even during daylight hours. A powerful guitarist and massive man, he is understandably opinionated. He's pissed about the war, loves the blues and is still working his ass off to master the guitar. Though many will get sidetracked by the scowl and the grimace, Chubby is a sensitive musician. He's actually got a few slow tunes and a great respect for the history of the genre. He's a badass, but growing up in a candy shop had some affect. (PK)
Growing up on the East Coast, Susan was blown away when she discovered that gospel/blues singing was a legitimate career choice. She joined her first band at 13 and earned a spot on the Boston Club scene before graduating from college. Susan toured with B.B. King, Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, the Lilith Faire and the Allman Brothers. She put in so much time on the road that she didn't even pretend to have a home address. But all those club dates and festivals paid off for the blues vagabond as she married Derek Trucks, gave birth to their son and recorded some of the best green-eyed soul around. Her personal and professional life with Derek continues as they share guitar duties on recordings and book individual tours with "family" in the plan. Awarded the Best Contemporary Blues Album for Wait for Me, in 2004, Susan blew away all nonbelievers with the additional release of Live From Austin Texas. Mixing the best of old-style rock and soul, her live CD covers Jerry Garcia, Sly Stone and the tear-inducing "Angel From Montgomery" by John Prine. With Ron Perry on bass, Jeff Sipe on drums and William Green on B-3 and piano, be prepared to watch Susan burn the fog off the blues festival sky. (Meribeth Malone)
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