Blind Willie’s, Atlanta, GA • November 2, 1999
Roi J. Tamkin
“It’s all about the singing,” Curtis tells me as we sit between sets at his Blind Willie’s show. The last time Curtis Salgado came to Atlanta, he was opening for Steve Miller, playing amphitheaters across the country. This time, he’s back promoting his fourth solo CD release, Wiggle Out of This .
For his show atop Atlanta’s smallest stage, Curtis said he was scaling back from his usual performance. Normally, his show would include a little pop, funk, or jazz. For the Blind Willie’s crowd, he kept it strictly to the blues, and the audience definitely appreciated what they heard.
His band consisted of some fantastic musicians who kept the arrangements tight and on target. On tour with Curtis are Joey Heinemann on keyboards, Tracey Arrington on bass, John Wedemeyer on guitar, and Reinhardt Metz on drums. Curtis sings with a smooth, soulful voice, but he is a monster on the mouth harp. John Wedemeyer absolutely wowed the crowd with his superb guitar playing, wailing out soulful tunes to match Curtis’ voice.
The set consisted mostly of covers with a few originals. Curtis closed the first set with “Cookie Dough,” the first time he played a song from the CD he was promoting. He covered B.B. King, Muddy Waters and O.V. Wright. His original tunes, “Bitter Tears” and “Too Loose,” fit in nicely with the classics, showing that Curtis is as good a writer and arranger as he is a singer.
The songs were extended in performance to allow each of the musicians a solo. But what I felt was a great feat were the simultaneous runs between Curtis on harmonica and John on guitar. Their timing was perfect.
Aside from catching a little heat from Blind Willie’s regular, Sandy, who shouted “down here in Georgia, we look ’em in the eyes,” Curtis took a strong hold of the audience right from the start. He took us down the road of blues history and landed us on his own doorstep with the John Lee Hooker-esque “Cookie Dough.” You can learn more about the singing, the harmonica, and the blues at his Web site, www.curtissalgado.com.