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Coco & the Kid

 Coco Montoya Live - The New Lafayette Club,  Bloomington, IL

 Saturday, March 15, 2008

Coco Montoya is a staple of the blues-rock community today. His howling croon and scorching guitar attacks are known to all who are involved in the contemporary blues community, and if you don’t know him you should.

Coco brought his new material and the band from his latest album to the New Lafayette Club this past Saturday, Coco and his band would need a little luck for the evening. Even the most road-tested musician has bad nights, and it almost turned into one, but a 12-year old local guitar phenomenon helped to swing things around.

Montoya and company went on stage around eight o’clock and instantly some trouble started with some technical issues with the sound. Things like this happen all the time and they usually work themselves out. However, in live music, you never know what’s going to happen next whether you’re a musician or a fan in the crowd.

Coco, being the fantastic fellow he was, laughed his way through it for about the first 15 minutes but soon became a little displeased. You could tell he wanted to give the fans what they wanted. Playing two songs off of his latest disc, the title track “Last Dirty Deal” and the Texas groove shuffle of “Coin Operated Love,” Montoya and company seemed to be working their way through things.

Then, as sometimes things happen, on a cover of his former band leader John Mayall, Montoya’s high G-string on his guitar slipped and he couldn’t hit the last note of the song. Obviously frustrated, Montoya decided to pay tribute to some of his late friends Jeff Healey and Buddy Miles, and did so with some of the most heartfelt lyrics on “Nothing But Love.” It was midway in on his next song “The Heart of Soul” from his second album that something went terribly wrong. Coco had melted the amp to the PA!

After twenty minutes, the band returned to the stage and charged full steam ahead into the rest of the show. Coco’s performance seemed a little flat to me but, the crowd danced and cheered and wanted more after the band left the stage for a second time, and they got it!

Twelve-year old guitarist Matt Curry was asked to the stage to finish the evening with the band, and as the young man tore into the first few bars of Coco’s “It Takes Time,” the elder statesmen to the blues demeanor changed completely. A huge smile spread across Coco and everyone else’s face in the entire place. The next three songs and the next 30 minutes were pure joy as the young man brought the house down as he and Montoya traded licks back and forth.

Montoya asked the crowd on more than one occasion, “Do you like that?” And they only responded with more! Montoya also sagely labeled the young man on the baby blue Stratocaster as “the future.” Montoya and the rest of the 200 people he were in the Lafayette Club on Saturday night seemed to be more than pleased with that idea of things to come.

Reviewer Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

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