Guitarist/singer Coco Montoya plays what some people call Southern-fried rock. Actually, it's just the blues turned up real loud. Whatever you call it, Montoya does it really, really well. Oh yeah, and he plays it upside down -- he's left-handed but plays a right-handed Fender Stratocaster turned the wrong way.
Montoya started off as a rock drummer. A few years later, Albert Collins walked into the club where Montoya was working. Collins was playing the matinee, and the club owner let him use Montoya's drum set -- without asking Montoya. Montoya blew a gasket about it, and Collins later called him up to apologize. A few months later, Collins called him up again, this time to tour. Montoya said yes, and three hours later, he was on the road. Montoya stayed with Collins for five years, and during that time Collins taught him the guitar. That's kind of like the Pope teaching you how to pray. Montoya later left Collins's band, took a turn as a bartender and eventually got a job as a pickup man for the Bluesbreakers, filling Eric Clapton's old chair.
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Montoya didn't go solo until the mid '90s, with Gotta Mind to Travel. He's turned out four more CDs since then, including the just-released Dirty Deal on Alligator Records, with members of his road band and Little Feat both backing him. The 11-track recording is an hour's worth of aggressive, shameless blues. -- Olivia Flores Alvarez Coco Montoya performs Sunday, February 18, at the Howling Coyote, 6536 FM 1960 West, 281-444-3401.