Hot Coco Montoya headlines night of blues at CBC
Coco Montoya has an extraordinary blues pedigree, playing in two of the genre’s best-known bands: Albert Collins and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.
The guitarist plays a free, seated Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room show on Friday, May 6.
“He’s pretty phenomenal,” said Jason King Roxas, whose group, the Jason King Band, plays the after-party in the Red Room on the west side of the casino.
“He’s always playing from his guitar to the amp with no pedals,” King said. “It’s all coming from his hands to the guitar to the amp. Whatever sounds, squeaks and squeals and moaning and screaming guitar that he gets, he gets just from the way he plays.”
Lake Tahoe Action was unable to speak with Montoya for this article.
A Los Angeles native, Montoya’s first instrument was drums. He attended a concert to see Creedence Clearwater Revival, but also saw the opener, Albert King, the left-handed, Flying V guitar star.
“Boy, after he got done playing, that changed everything,” Montoya said on Blind Pig Records artist biography website. “That revolutionized my whole life and showed me what music and guitar playing really were about. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Albert Collins saw Montoya play in 1972 in a small Culver City and asked him to go on tour as a drummer. That’s how Montoya learned guitar.
“We’d sit in hotel rooms and play guitar,” Montoya said. “He’d play that beautiful rhythm of his and just have me play along. He was always saying, ‘Man, don’t think about it, just feel it.’ He taught me to tap into an inner strength.”
Nearly a decade later Montoya was playing guitar in a club when Mayall, who was celebrating his birthday, came in. Mayall recruited Montoya to join Walter Trout as guitarists for the Bluesbreakers, a band that formerly included guitarists Mick Taylor, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.
Another decade later, Montoya received some advice from an ailing Collins.
“He was dying of cancer when he told me, ‘I know John’s been good to you, but it’s time for you to do your own thing,’ ” Montoya said. “That really shook me.”
Montoya has headed his own band since 1993. He after weekend shows at Crystal Bay and Tuolumne, Calif., he will tour the Midwest.