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Curtis Salgado, the original Blues Brother

Curtis Salgado, vocals, harmonica–

Curtis Salgado is the original Blues Brother, his essence captured, integrated and performed by deceased actor John Belushi many years ago, in the film The Blues Brothers, according to press accounts. Salgado on the other hand is still alive, singing and dancing his way across stages in the Northwest. A white guy now from Portland, Oregon, with a soul patch who sings R & B and Funk, he fronts the Curtis Salgado Band  with four soul brothers, three of whom are African American. Two of whom are big men with gold jewelry playing drums and bass guitar. One of whom is a skinny white guy, who plays lead guitar like Jimi H. The fifth is called Detroit, and he plays a three-tiered keyboard setup standing, with his white headscarf flowing, as he contributes vocals and mysterious smiles.

Vyasa Dodson, guitar — Tracy Arrington, bass

Salgado may be best known for his tune 20 Years of BB King, a tribute to the legendary Soulster. He was playing the Triple Door club in Seattle one rainy night, in November of 2011, when I walked in on a whim. The show was half over, the ticket price an investment, the seating tiered tables– Vegas nightclub show style. And there was Salgado belting it out, dancing across the stage singing of BB King. I thought, Who is this guy?

Being late to the knowledge party has some benefits: you are not jaded or skeptical of other’s reviews. Your experience shapes your opinion. With Salgado my feet kept time instinctively from the start, tapping the downbeats with enthusiasm until my seatmate touched my arm to suggest I settle down. So I swayed my head and upper torso from side to side in addition to tap dancing. I was smitten. I needed a dance floor, but alas snuggled into my leather banquette and fondled my drink. It was a show, not a dance. Pity.

Salgado sings, sways and plays harmonica. His band members play their respective instruments with verve while contributing harmonious vocals, often in a call and response gospelesque fashion. Slow tempos and heartbreakers like Let me Make Love to You Baby, are on his newest CD, Curtis Salgado, Soul Shot. Funkier numbers include She Didn’t Cut me Loose, She set me Free. A recipient of the Blues Foundations Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year award in 2010, Salgado is not finished. He was named for the same award in 2012.

While living in Missoula, Montana a couple of years ago I found my way to a funk band– Reverend Slanky. For fans of that band, Salgado will feel familiar. Salgado’s band doesn’t have the horn section or the huge conga drum, but you know…it’s the same feel. Maybe both bands remind me of the 70s— not sure on that. I just know funk and rhythm and blues from that time seem lost in contemporary culture, until you stumble into Salgado or the Reverend and your body responds. Like snake charmers they are.

Salgado has faced down some serious medical issues, including liver cancer in 2005 and underwent a successful liver transplant in 2006. His hair is short and grey, and he sports a black watch cap until he sets it aside. He caresses the microphone, like the old time crooners, and bends it to his body. He still knows how to do arm windmills while dancing like the classic rockers. He’s got it going.

Craig Stevenson, aka Detroit, Keyboards

After the show at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Mt. Vernon, WA, Salgado sat down and cheerfully autographed CDs for a line of fans. Taking time to ask your name, and listening for some personal detail he can incorporate into the message, Salgado pulls you into his life for a moment. He is grateful you have come to see him and the band.  As he sings in Getting to Know You— Baby, Baby I Love You.

Vyasa Dodson, lead guitar

For a little Salgado live:

Have a little time? Listen to this interview of Curtis Salgado with musician/DJs Les Browning and Rip Robbins, recorded November of 2012 at the studios of KSVR and KSVU fm, Mt Vernon, WA



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Category: Indie It Music

About the Author: Ann Bodle-Nash: A free-lance traveler since the age of 11 months, little moss grows on her soles. With relatives and friends scattered across the globe, she finds frequent excuses to travel. But travel in the West is best--those quiet corners of weirdness are like light to a moth, burning with intensity, encouraging curiosity and discovery. She imagines the glory of 30 days of continuous floating and fly fishing on the Yellowstone River after watching a documentary on same. Currently living in Washington State with her husband.

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