Curtis Salgado performing at Cafe Eleven
Nov 6, 2022
The Original Cafe Eleven
St. Augustine Beach, FL
Born in 1954, Salgado grew up in Eugene, Oregon with music all around him. His parents’ vast music collection included everything from Fats Waller to Ray Charles, and his older brother and sister turned him on to the soul and blues of Wilson Pickett and Muddy Waters at an early age. He attended a Count Basie performance when he was 13 and decided then and there that music was his calling. After “Salgado inspires chills. Upbeat and original…poignant and wise with a great sense of humor” –Blues Music Magazine “Glorious and memorable… Salgado’s voice is center stage just as it should be. Highly recommended” –Blues & Rhythm UK “Salgado’s vocals are soulful beauty. Fresh, unexpected, authentic, percolating…perfectly executed… simply delicious” –Living Blues getting his hands on a harmonica, Curtis began devouring the blues of Little Walter and Paul Butterfield, and taught himself to play.
By his early 20s he was already making a name for himself in Eugene’s bar scene, first as the vocalist/harmonica player of The Nighthawks, and later as co-leader of The Robert Cray Band. Salgado quickly developed into a player and singer of remarkable depth, with vocal and musical influences including Otis Redding, O.V. Wright, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson I and II, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf.
In 1977, comedian/actor John Belushi was in Eugene filming Animal House. During downtime from production, Belushi caught a typically ferocious Salgado performance and introduced himself during a break. Once Salgado started sharing some of his blues knowledge, a fast friendship grew. Salgado spent hours playing old records for Belushi, teaching him about blues and R&B. Belushi soaked up the music like a sponge and used his new awareness to portray “Joliet” Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers, first as a skit on Saturday Night Live, then a best-selling record album (which was dedicated to Curtis) and finally as a major motion picture (Cab Calloway’s character in the film was named Curtis as an homage).
Once Salgado joined forces with his friend Robert Cray and began playing together as The Robert Cray Band, he found himself sharing stages with many of his heroes, including Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland, Albert Collins and Bonnie Raitt. After Salgado and Cray parted ways in 1982, Curtis went on to front Roomful Of Blues, singing and touring with them from 1984 through 1986. Back home in Oregon, he formed a new band, Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos, and was once again tearing it up on the club scene. He honed his band to a razor’s edge before releasing his debut in 1991 on the JRS label. After recordings for Rhythm Safari and Lucky Records, Salgado signed with
Shanachie Records in 1999, releasing four critically acclaimed albums. Salgado’s Alligator Records debut, Soul Shot, came out in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. Blues Revue said Salgado’s music is “triumphant, joyful, blues-soaked R&B” and declared him to be “one of the most soulful, honest singers ever.” He followed up with The Beautiful Lowdown in 2016 and Rough Cut, the potent, stripped-down acoustic album (with guitarist Alan Hager) in 2018. The albums collectively earned Salgado multiple Blues Music Awards—for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year, Soul Blues Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Soul Blues Male Artist Of The Year.
Salgado has performed at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival and The Tampa Bay Blues Festival. He has also played The San Francisco Blues Festival, Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival, Denver’s Mile High Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Internationally he’s toured in Saipan, Guam, Canada, England, throughout Europe, Brazil, Chile, Panama, The Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong. According to Blues Revue, Salgado’s performances “start at excellent before segueing into goose bumps, ecstasy, and finally nirvana.”