Coco Montoya

"Stratocaster-fueled, fierce slash-and-burn guitar work...dramatic,
smoldering Southern soul-rooted intensity. Montoya’s voice is as
expressive as his guitar." –Washington Post
"Montoya is a show-stopper...Heartfelt singing and merciless guitar
with a wicked icy burn...he swings like a jazz man and stings like the
Iceman, Albert Collins. He is one of the truly gifted blues artists of his
generation." –Living Blues
The old Willie Dixon adage, “blues is truth,” perfectly describes the searing,
contemporary blues-rock of
world-renowned guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya. Taught by the “Master of the
Telecaster,” Albert Collins, but with a hard-edged sound and style all his own,
Montoya mixes his forceful, melodic guitar playing and passionate vocals with
memorable songs, delivering the blues’ hardest truths. He earned his status as a
master guitarist and soul-powered vocalist through years of paying his dues as a
sideman with Collins (first as a drummer) and then with John Mayall’s
Bluesbreakers, before launching his solo career in 1993. Five years of constant
touring with Collins and ten years with Mayall turned him into a monster player
and dynamic performer. Montoya has released eight solo albums—including three
for Alligator between 2000 and 2007—and has played at clubs, concert halls and
major festivals all over the world. Guitar Player says Montoya plays “stunning,
powerhouse blues with a searing tone, emotional soloing, and energetic, unforced
vocals.”
Returning to Alligator with his new album, Hard Truth, Montoya delivers one
career-topping performance after another, the music immediately ranking among
the best he’s ever recorded. Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel (Eric Burdon,
Curtis Salgado, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt), the album features eleven songs, each
delivering a hard truth of its own. From the radio-friendly, gospel-inspired
celebration of love, I Want To Shout About It, to the haunting Devil Don’t Sleep to
the icy-hot cover of Albert Collins’ The Moon Is Full, Hard Truth covers a lot of
emotional ground. Montoya’s unpredictable guitar playing and smoking soul
vocals blend effortlessly with a backing band featuring renowned musicians
including bassist Bob Glaub (Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis),
keyboardist Mike Finnigan (Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Taj Mahal), guitarists Billy
Watts (Eric Burdon) and Johnny Lee Schell (Bonnie Raitt), and Braunagel on
drums. Slide guitar master Lee Roy Parnell guests on Lost In The Bottle.
Henry “Coco” Montoya was born in Santa Monica, California, on October 2, 1951,
and raised in a working class family. Growing up, Coco immersed himself in his
parents’ record collection. He listened to big band jazz, salsa, doo-wop and rock
‘n’ roll. His first love was drums; he acquired a kit at age 11. He got a guitar two
years later. “I’m sure the Beatles had something to do with this,” Montoya recalls.
“I wanted to make notes as well as beats.” But guitar was his secondary
instrument. Montoya turned his love of drumming into his profession, playing in a
number of area rock bands while still in his teens and eventually becoming an indemand
drummer.
In 1969, Montoya saw Albert King opening up a Creedence Clearwater
Revival/Iron Butterfly concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. He was
transformed. “After Albert got done playing,” says Montoya, “my life was changed.
When he played, the music went right into my soul. It grabbed me so emotionally
that I had tears welling up in my eyes. Nothing had ever affected me to this level.
He showed me what music and playing the blues were all about. I knew that was
what I wanted to do.”
Then fate took over. In the early 1970s, Albert Collins was booked to play a
matinee at the same small club in Culver City, California where Montoya had
played the night before. The club owner gave Collins permission to use Montoya’s
drums. Montoya continues the story: “I show up to pick up my equipment and I
see that someone had been playing my drums and I got a little angry with the club
owner. So Albert called me up at the club and was real nice and apologetic. I went
down to see his show and it just tore my head off. The thing that I had seen and
felt with Albert King came pouring back on me when I saw Albert Collins.”
A few months later, Collins desperately needed a drummer for a tour of the
Northwest and he called Coco. “When he called,” recalls Coco, “I figured we’d
rehearse for a few weeks before the tour. Instead, he told me he’d pick me up in
three hours.” During the tour, Albert took Montoya under his wing, teaching him
about blues music and life on the road. After the tour ended, Montoya remained in
the band for five more years. It was during this time that Coco began doubling on
guitar. And Albert went out of his way to teach him. “We’d sit in hotel rooms for
hours and play guitar,” remembers Montoya. “He’d play that beautiful rhythm of
his and just have me play along. He was always saying, ‘Don’t think about it, just
feel it.’ He taught me to tap into an inner strength. What a great gift he gave me.”
As Montoya’s guitar playing improved, his relationship with the blues legend kept
growing. “He was like a father to me,” says Coco, who often crashed at Collins’
home. When he declared Montoya his “son,” it was the highest praise and
affection he could offer. In return, Montoya learned everything he could from the
legendary Master of the Telecaster. Montoya often pays tribute to his mentor,
recording a Collins song on almost every album he’s made. But he will only cover
an Albert Collins song if he can make it his own. “One of the things Albert taught
me is to interpret a song your own way,” Montoya says. “He was never impressed
with people who would imitate him note for note.”
As disco began to take over and gigs began to dry up, Montoya left Collins’ band,
but the two remained close friends. Montoya worked as a bartender, figuring his
career as a professional musician was over. But luck was still on his side. One
night in the early 1980s, Montoya was jamming in a Los Angeles bar when John
Mayall walked in. Thinking quickly, Montoya launched into All Your Love I Miss
Loving as a tribute, and Mayall took note. Soon after, Mayall needed a guitarist for
the newly reformed Bluesbreakers, and he called Coco. Filling the shoes of
previous Bluesbreaker guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor would
not be easy, but Montoya knew he could not pass up the opportunity to play with
another blues legend. For the next ten years he toured the world and recorded
with Mayall, soaking up the experience of life on the road and in the recording
studio. Along with fellow Bluesbreaker guitarist Walter Trout, Montoya was a
featured member of the band, and often opened shows with his own blistering
blues.
By the early 1990s, Montoya felt ready for a change. He put his own band
together and hit the road, proving himself night after night. His debut as a leader,
1995’s Gotta Mind To Travel (originally on Silvertone Records in England and
later issued in the USA on Blind Pig Records), became an instant fan favorite.
Blues fans, radio programmers and critics sent praise from all corners. The album
immediately made it clear that Montoya was a guitarist and vocalist who ranked
among the best players on the contemporary blues scene. In 1996, he was
nominated for four Blues Music Awards and walked away with the award for Best
New Blues Artist. Two more Blind Pig albums followed, and Coco was well on his
way to the top of the blues-rock world.
In 2000, Coco’s Alligator debut, Suspicion, quickly became the best-selling
album of his career, earning regular radio airplay on over 120 stations nationwide.
Montoya’s fan base exploded. After two more highly successful Alligator
releases—2002’s massively popular Can’t Look Back and 2007’s Dirty Deal—
Montoya signed with Ruf Records, cutting both a live and a studio album.
Back home on Alligator with Hard Truth, Montoya will hit the highway, playing his
heart out night after night for fans hungry for the real thing. Still an indefatigable
road warrior, Montoya continues to pack clubs and theaters around the world, and
brings festival audiences to their feet from New York to New Orleans to Chicago
to San Francisco. Across the globe, he’s performed in countries including
Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, England, Brazil, Argentina,
Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic and Canada.
Vintage Guitar says, “Coco just keeps getting better and better...rockin’ blues with
guitar that cuts straight to the heart of the matter. His guitar playing is funky and
blistering; it’s perfect. Whatever he plays, he does it with fire and passion rarely
seen in this day and age.”

The Alan Greene Band

Alan Greene, a veteran of the Cleveland music scene, was voted "Best Guitarist in Northeast Ohio" in the 1997 Scene Magazine Annual Readers Poll and the 2004 Free Times Readers Poll. He has been nominated as "Best Guitarist" in the 2001, '02, '05, '06 and '08 Free Times Music Awards.
Alan has also been a member of the international band, "Humble Pie", along with "Breathless", " The Innocent", and the" Mr. Stress Blues Band". He is featured on various recordings by Humble Pie, Michael Stanley, Donnie Iris, Breathless & Pere Ubu.
In 2010, Carlos Santana released the song, "Angel Love" on his" Supernatural" Legacy Edition CD, co-written by Alan Greene.


Tom Odegard (Odie) is considered by many to be one of Northeast Ohio's finest blues singers, with a harmonica style that is truly his own.
Performing for over thirty years, Tom has played with such notable bands as" The Elm Street Blues Band", " The Unfortunate Sons" and "Blue Inc."
Several of Tom's original songs help make up the Alan Greene Band's songlist.


Rob Luoma is one of Cleveland's best and most respected drummers. His 12 year stint with regional sensation" Oroboros" took him all over the US and as far as Thailand playing to enthusiastic audiences and keeping the dance floors filled with his solid timekeeping and imaginative dynamics. His talent and easy-going nature have made him a favorite among all the musicians who've played with him.


Justin Butcher rounds out the Alan Greene Band with his strong, versatile bass playing. Together, with drummer Rob Luoma, Justin helps create a rhythm section that keeps crowds moving and helps define a unique identity for the Alan Greene Band.
A multi-instrumentalist, Justin has played with numerous groups, such as "The Castaways"," The Tim Facemyer Band", and" Miles Beyond".
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