Solomon Burke isn't the only reason to drag yourself out of bed on May 29. Sunday's lineup is what we call motivational force.
Santa Cruz Blues Festival 2005
It's been a quirky musical evolution for Coco Montoya. A formidable blues guitarist whose performance history includes a 10-year stint with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Montoya got his start in the music scene as a drummer. That was back in the mid-1970s, when Albert Collins called Montoya up from the minors to lay down the rhythms for his touring band. Montoya stayed with Collins for five years, learning guitar from the legendary blues master in the band's off-hours and then going on to play with Mayall in a role held previously by such people as Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor. Since 1993, Montoya has toured with his own band, releasing three critically acclaimed albums and pulling down four W.C. Handy Award nominations. A natural-born entertainer, Montoya gives off nonstop energy and all-out emotion when he plays. His show is usually full of surprises—the time at Moe's, for example, when Montoya first startled and then delighted the crowd by hopping off the stage and playing his way across the dance floor. (Barbara McKenna)
A common complaint with new blues bands is that they retread the works of the masters at the expense of innovation. It's hard to update the songs of Stevie Ray or Buddy Guy, but a youthful perspective certainly helps. Indigenous, hailing from the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota, mixes up the now nearly classicized sound of the electric blues with a healthy dose of Rage Against the Machine. Their guitarist, Mato Nanji, is able to play most of Hendrix's best licks but he filters them through the textural world of Tom Morello. Joined on stage by his siblings, Mato, Pte and Wanbdi, as well as their cousin Horse, this group is a family with deep roots in social activism. The tunes aren't half bad either. (PK)
He may have "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" back in 1976, but it was a long time coming. His induction to the blues reads like an Amish boy's corruption by the ways of the "English"--he was raised with no electricity or running water on a farm in Iowa, but he moved away after earning a scholarship to the University of Chicago, and it was all downhill from there. He immediately fell in love with the blues, hooked up with Howlin' Wolf guitarist Little Smokey Smothers and dropped out of college to pursue the blues full-time. His career took off when he joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and played with legends like Buddy Guy. He left the band in 1968 to pursue a solo career in San Francisco, where he jammed at the Fillmore with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Bishop ducked out of the limelight for most of the '80s, only to return in 1995 on tour with B.B. King. He made a splash in 2000 with the release of That's My Partner, a collaboration with Smothers, his mentor. (Anna Meyer)
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers
Conspiracy theorists have long turned harmless coincidences into disturbing stories of cabalistic intrigue. Prime example: when Jimmy Thackery was in high school in the late '60s, he joined a band with none other than Bonnie Raitt's brother, David, who introduced Thackery to Buddy Guy, who turned Thackery's world upside down and, after the added reinforcement of a live Jimi Hendrix show, made Thackery a committed bluesman for life. He went on to join the Nighthawks in 1974, with whom he toured for 14 years and released 20 albums. Now, the accomplished blues guitarist is touring with a pared-down band, the Drivers, with whom he's already made nine more records. So what ever became of David Raitt? He's up in Ukiah, Calif., where he once invited none other than Metro Santa Cruz music writer Peter Koht to play with him at a nonalcoholic vegetarian restaurant on State Street. Coincidence? I think not. (Steve Sanchez)
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