Soul drives Salgado's voice and harmonica
When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 15
Where: Crystola Roadhouse, 20918 E. U.S. Highway 24, Woodland Park
Tickets: $18,$20 online, $38 VIP includes reserved seat and dinner; 576-5945,
Even his speaking voice conjures images of dark bars filled with smoke and dancing and very bad choices.
Wait until you hear Curtis Salgado sing.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” Salgado says of his beginnings in Eugene, Ore., bars at 18 or 19 years old. “That was it.”
Salgado plays the Crystola Roadhouse on Friday.
“Sometimes I rethink that,” says Salgado, who won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Artist of The Year. He laughs. “I don’t have a Plan B. This is all I know. I know that as a 59-year-old I should have had a Plan B, but I was wrapped in the music and always have been.”
Salgado, who plays harmonica in between vocals, is touring in support of his eighth solo album, “Soul Shot,” which rocks with his trademark soulful sound: a hint of B.B. King, a little Otis Redding, some Robert Cray, and on some songs a sound that seems to reach for some undefinable something.
“Salgado is one of the most down-to-earth, soulful, honest singers ever,” wrote Blues Revue, “and his harmonica work is smoking and thoroughly invigorating — rollicking, funky and electrifying.”
Salgado made his bones in a little Oregon band called The Nighthawks. They broke up with little more to show than a few recorded tracks. Still, that was the band that introduced Salgado to John Belushi, who met the singer while Belushi was in Eugene to film “Animal House.” Belushi showed up night after night, Salgado says. Then, in a 1978 airing of “Saturday Night Live,” the world met The Blues Brothers.
“Belushi called me and told me that The Blues Brothers were going to be on and that they’d say my name at the top of the show.”
They were playing some bar that night. When the words came, the entire bar stopped: “Thanks to Curtis Salgado and the Cray Band.”
Salgado softly sings a few lines of one of the Blues Brothers’ emblematic tunes, “Hey Bartender.”
“They told me, ‘He ripped you off.’ I don’t look at it like that,” Salgado says. “I played a part. I was John’s muse.”
He joined the Robert Cray Band and later, Roomful of Blues. Salgado toured with the Steve Miller Band and Santana before a diagnosis, in 2006, of liver cancer. After a successful transplant, he was back on the road. But in 2009, the cancer returned, this time to his lungs. It was removed, along with parts of his lungs.
Ask him how he feels and he’ll laugh. He feels good, he says, but it’s no guarantee that he’s done with cancer.
“I don’t know if the crisis is going to be averted,” he says.
So, he tours, playing music for people who remind him of why he gets up every morning.
“We could have a long trip and it would be raining, once you get to set the stage up, do the sound check, eat some food, you’re done. But you perform, and all that goes away,” he says.
You can almost hear him smile.
“It’s magic and boom. You don’t think about the pain, you’ve got to put a show on. It’s magical.”
Contact the writer at 476-1602