Over the course of his almost 40-year career, guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya's explosive guitar playing and soul-driven voice have propelled him to the upper reaches of the blues-rock world. From his early days as a drummer to his current status as one of the top-drawing guitarists and vocalists on the blues-rock scene, Montoya has forged his reputation through years of hard work and constant touring. And it all started with a chance meeting in the mid-1970s with legendary bluesman Albert Collins, who offered Montoya a gig as his drummer. Collins took an immediate liking to Montoya, becoming his mentor and teaching his new protege secrets of the Collins "icy hot" style of blues guitar. Five years later, John Mayall happened to catch Montoya at a jam session and was blown away. As a result, Montoya spent 10 years touring the world with the legendary Bluesbreakers.
After three records with Mayall as a member of the Bluesbreakers, Montoya decided in 1993 it was time to take the lessons from his two musical fathers and begin to sculpt a solo career. In the early '90s he signed to Blind Pig Records and released three critically acclaimed discs, Gotta Mind To Travel (1995), Ya Think I'd Know Better (1996), and Just Let Go (1997). In the middle of his Blind Pig days, he also received national recognition when he was named the Blues Foundation's Best New Blue Artist at the 1996 Blues Music Awards. In 2000, he took his music up a notch and signed with Alligator Records, the country's top blues label. In his seven years with Alligator, Montoya released three more outstanding records: Suspicion (2000), Can't Look Back (2002), and Dirty Deal (2007).
Today, in 2012, Montoya has found a new home in the old world. Europe's premier blues label, Ruf Records, signed the guitar giant in the late '00s and is poised to bring his sound to a worldwide audience. As Billboard put it, "In a world of blues guitar pretenders, Coco Montoya is the real McCoy. Be prepared to get scorched."
THE DUKE ROBILLARD BAND
What do Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Jay McShann, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Hammond, Jimmy Witherspoon, Dr. John, Maria Muldaur, Roomful of Blues, and The Rockin' Highliners all have in common? The answer: Duke Robillard. Guitarist, leader, songwriter, singer, producer, session musician, and a one-man cheering section for the blues in all its forms and permutations, Robillard is a true legend in the blues community. A Grammy nominee and four-time recipient of the Best Blues Guitarist award from the Blues Music Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards), he has won accolades from critics and fellow musicians alike. B.B. King himself called him "one of the great players," and The Houston Post labeled him "one of God's guitarists."
None of this praise goes to Robillard's head, however. He's still on the road, playing as many as 250 dates a year, and he's still proving, night after night, that his true talent is bringing people out to hear the music, appreciate the show, and dance to the blues. Although he's perhaps best known for founding Roomful of Blues with Al Copley in the late '60s, he has also played with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, shared studio time with Bob Dylan, Ruth Brown, Johnny Adams, John Hammond, Pinetop Perkins, Ronnie Earl, and others, and led his own prolific solo career with his band. A musician in command of a full range of talents, he is a complete artist who, over 40 years into his career, is at the height of his creative powers. His latest recording, Low Down and Tore Up, came out in 2011.
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