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
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
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
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.”

Sam Hooper is a captivating American musician whose alluring blend of blues, rock and funk has thrilled audiences in China, Switzerland, Finland, and Japan. Originally from Cleveland, OH and well established on the Boston music scene, Hooper has recently relocated to the entertainment hotbed of Los Angeles, California. An alumnus of Berklee College of Music and The University of Miami School of Music, his songs have been published by Los Angeles’ Heavy Hitters Music and The University of Miami’s Category 5 Publishing. As an artist, he stirs up an alluring blend of blues/rock, pop and funk. His soulful vocals have been compared to Otis Redding and Robert Cray, while critics have likened his blistering guitar playing to Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.

In February of 2009 Sam Hooper Group completed its third residency since 2004 at Shanghai’s renowned House of Blues & Jazz. Later that year, he won Guitar Center’s King of the Blues Store Finals in Cerritos, CA. Hooper has been featured at Boston’s NEMO, Nashville’s 2NMC, and Philadelphia’s PMC music conferences, New England Songwriters Festival, and The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival in Florida. The Group was also a finalist in the 2002 18th Annual Boston Battle of the Blues Bands, (now part of the International Blues Challenge).

Hooper has previously released three critically acclaimed CDs, the infectious All Caught Up, the collaboration Rich Glenn & Sam Hooper, and East, recorded in Shanghai. His songs have been heard by millions of viewers on the hot daytime TV dramas All My Children and The Young & The Restless. In 2004, one was selected for the compilation CD, Boston’s Best Singer/Songwriter Showcase.

Sam Hooper Group has opened for blues guitar legends Ronnie Earl and Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson and showcased at New York’s Soul of the Blues Festival and Alabama’s W. C. Handy Music Festival. Hooper has also performed at Terra Blues in New York City as part of Chicago blues great, Melvin’ Taylor’s band. A documentary of Hooper’s musical journey has appeared on Medford, MA Cable TV and is now seen on

In 2010, Hooper played guitar for five months on Princess Cruises’ Star and Grand Princess cruise ships with the band Grooveline. His performances were enjoyed by thousands of passengers in South America, The Caribbean, The Netherlands and Europe. He returned to Grooveline in 2011 to play and sing again on the Star Princess including stops in North Africa and Uruguay.

In November 2010, Hooper returned to Shanghai as a special guest performer to celebrate House of Blues & Jazz’ 15th anniversary. To commemorate this special occasion, the band has released its new CD, Sam Hooper Group – LIVE in Shanghai. It was recorded on an exciting night of the band’s second contract at House of Blues & Jazz. It features Sam along with Jordan Scannella – bass and Akira Nakamura – drums throwing down in front of an ecstatic standing-room-only crowd. The new CD is available now on iTunes.

2011 also found Sam Hooper Group on the road doing its first tours of the Southeast and Southwest USA. Stops in Florida, Louisiana and Texas culminated with a thrilling performance opening for England’s #1 blues guitarist, Matt Schofield, at Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar in Houston, TX. Energized new fans showed their support by buying CDs from Sam’s full catalog!

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