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CD REVIEW -- Curtis Salgado
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Soul Shot
Alligator Records

Curtis Salgado Soul Shot CD
by Stella Ponce

Curtis Salgado fans rejoice! Clap those hands and start to dance - fast, slow, slow and swaying, and back to stomping your feet.  At the end you can even add a little testifying! Soul Shot takes you rapturously full circle as Salgado deftly grabs your spirit and injects a whomping dose of Curtis! Salgado followers know what this means; it means look out! Those of you not familiar with Salgado’s work, sprint to hear what is being lauded as Salgado’s best recorded work - mind you, this is heralded as such even though his previous release, Clean Getaway (2008), was nominated for four Blues Music Awards. 


Winner of the 2010 Blues Music Awards (BMA) for “Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year,” and a 2012 BMA nominee in the same category, singer/songwriter, bandleader extraordinaire and harmonica icon Salgado, says of Soul Shot, “We worked hard on Soul Shot; I am happy it is being received so enthusiastically. It’s too early to see what will come of it …but I know it’s not like anything out there and I am proud of it.” 


Salgado, born in Everett, Washington and raised in Eugene Oregon, began his professional musical career in the late 1960s. His bio includes fronting his own bands, co-leading the Robert Cray Band, and touring extensively with Roomful of Blues. After working with Albert Collins, Salgado dubbed him “the Master of the Telecaster” – a career enduring title. Salgado also starred with Steve Miller and rocked with Santana for a summer before being benched with serious health issues in 2006 that had fans, family and friends holding their breath and rallying for the remarkable recovery that thankfully resulted.


There is also the Belushi Connection. Salgado and John Belushi became friends while Belushi was in Eugene filming Animal House. Belushi was so taken by Salgado’s super cool persona, passionate, powerful and soulful vocals, and his epic harping, that it inspired him to create the Blues Brothers (the Blues Brothers’ Briefcase Full of Blues disc is dedicated to Salgado).  The Blues Brothers’ movement actually resuscitated the Blues, bringing it to center stage and to the attention of mainstream America – thanks to bluesman Salgado. The Belushi link forged an indirect connection between Salgado and Chicago -- one that’s been further solidified through Salgado’s friendship with Chicago’s Nick Moss and Kate Moss (they performed together at Chicago’s Blues Fest last year). Of course, the release of Soul Shot by Chicago’s own Alligator Records now provides a tighter connection to Chicago blues fans’ hearts.


Salgado has a right to be proud of his latest exceptional offering. Technically and solidly anchored, Soul Shot was produced by funk and R&B guitarist, Marlon McClain and drummer Tony Braunagel with co-production help from Salgado. Backed by members of The Phantom Blues Band and guest cameos, Soul Shot hits the bull’s eye, dead center. The album, featuring four stellar Salgado originals and seven ever-so-right covers that include songs by Bobby Womack, George Clinton, O.V. Wright, The O’Jays, Otis Redding and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, not only showcases Salgado’s talent but also collectively conveys his confidence and maturity. Soul Shot embraces and lifts like an old friend. Warmly familiar, it comforts and satisfies but it’s exciting and exhilarating too.  And it’s soulful and very sexy.  If Soul Shot was your first date, you’d want to see that person again.


Salgado is a legendary heart and soul entertainer. He gives every ounce of himself at each show as if it’s his last. Soul Shot, transcends physical space and brings his hard-driving, high energy and impassioned performance directly to you.


While it would be difficult to pick the award winning song, each track can certainly be nominated - at the very least - for best supporting role on Salgado’s masterpiece. Special cover favorites include the lively, makes you want to dance, album opener “What You Gonna Do” (Womack) highlighting Mike Finnigan on organ and Joe Sublett on saxophone; the rich full sound of “Gettin’ to Know You” (Clinton) that explodes with a funky beat, horns, back-up singers and, of course, a smokin’ Salgado (“Ah, turn around and back up into me!” Hot!); and, the sensual, riveting ballad, “Let Me Make Love to You” (O’Jays) that has Salgado belting and listeners melting. Dance with me baby.


All four of Salgado’s original works are stand-alone hits, with a photo finish situation between them all: the soulful “Love Comfort Zone”; the insightful “She Didn’t Cut Me Loose” (She Set Me Free); the righteous and joyful “He Played His Harmonica” (‘he was as bad as Al Capone..on the windy city saxophone”); and, the gospel spirited “A Woman or the Blues” (‘either way, there’ll be hell to pay’) that has you stomping your feet. 


Make no mistake this timeless album - with its blues, funk and R&B formula - is an all soul, all dance record, reminiscent of a time gone by, yet fresh in its contemporary delivery. It is what master showman Salgado envisioned and achieved.  Liners author, Dick Shurman, says of Soul Shot, “Curtis and his cohorts pack a seamless and powerful punch which is bound to rack up more awards and airplay as a highlight of the year and (as) an instant classic. Go see Curtis and his band as they continue to tour worldwide, and appreciate a survivor, an inspiration and a mainstay of blues and R&B at the absolute top of his game.”  Do it.

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