Call it a big blues weekend in Snohomish County.
On Nov. 18, hear the great Curtis Salgado, along with first place 2016 International Blues Challenge winners Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons at the annual Legends of the Blues concert in Arlington. On Nov. 19, see the Blues Invasion in Snohomish.
Salgado, a Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend (“living” being the important word here), was born in Everett, grew up in Eugene and now is based in Portland.
During the past 10 years or so, Salgado, 63, has overcome multiple health challenges — battling back from liver cancer and lung cancer, and then, this past spring surviving quadruple bypass surgery. Now he’s back on the road and full of energy, said his promoters at Alligator Records.
“I was a baby when my folks left Everett, but I always say I was born in Snohomish County,” Salgado said during an interview with The Daily Herald in 2014.
“My folks taught me to love music,” he said. “They were jazz enthusiasts, and we listened to a lot of swing-era music, classical and more. Then my siblings introduced me to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis. I was crazy about it all.”
Salgado may not be so crazy about the perennial telling of the following story, but it’s always fun to recall that Salgado’s early career in Eugene inspired the late Saturday Night Live star John Belushi.
Belushi was in Eugene to film the 1978 movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House” at the University of Oregon. Belushi went to hear Salgado, who was performing at a local bar. Belushi and movie director John Landis decided then and there to create “The Blues Brothers.” In that movie, Cab Calloway plays the character “Curtis.” And The Blues Brothers’ debut album, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” is dedicated to Salgado.
Renowned guitarist Alan Hager, also of Portland, and Salgado have a new album coming out in January. “Rough Cut” is a stripped-down compilation featuring new tunes and carefully chosen blues covers. The song “I Will Not Surrender” is the lead track, appropriate for Salgado’s year.
Despite the health issues, Salgado is a winner of the prestigious Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year, as well as the Soul Blues Male Artist Of The Year, Soul Blues Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year. NPR calls him “a blues icon” with a “huge voice.” He also is well known for his prowess on the harmonica.
Opening the Legends of the Blues show are Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, who will take the audience on a journey through the history of American roots music. They were awarded first place at the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, out of 94 solo and duo acts representing 16 countries. They were honored for their blend of pre-blues a cappella field hollers, fiddle and banjo breakdowns and duet distillations of early jazz.
Based in Seattle, the men are scholars of blues traditions. They prefer to be recognized as American songsters, rather than blues musicians, because their repertoire is much broader and spans many genres. Whatever you want to call it, their music recalls the sort that paved the way for music of today, said local bluesman Jeff Nicely, who is the producer of the concert.
The concert is sponsored by the Arlington Arts Council, a nonprofit committed to bringing quality art experiences to the Stillaguamish River Valley, and is made possible with funding from the city of Arlington’s Hotel-Motel Tax Fund.
Legends of the Blues V
7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, Byrnes Performing Arts Center on the Arlington High School campus, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington.
Tickets are $15 online, $20 at the door and kids under 12 get in free. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com and at Flowers by George, 335 N. Olympic Ave., in downtown Arlington.