Coco Montoya knows greatness. He plays guitar in the same unusual style as did Albert King and Otis Rush and he had been in bands with Albert Collins and John Mayal. And the really great thing for music fans is that he will open the 2015 Bluesdays Tuesday at the Squaw Valley Village.
Montoya’s only other Bluesdays show was rained out.
Montoya began playing guitar when he was 13. Because the left-hander didn’t have an instructor teach him how to manipulate his instrument, he taught himself to play with the strings upside down.
A fan of rock and roll, he attended a show with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Iron Butterfly and a blues player he did not know: Albert King.
“It changed my life,” he told Tahoe Onstage in 2013.
Not only did King also play his instrument left-handed and upside down, the music he played moved the teenager, who has had a long, successful career as a bluesman, although he has a unique sound.
“Do I consider myself a real blues player? “ he asked. “Probably not, because I have such a mixture of things, but blues is the root of pretty much everything American. It’s gotten me where I am.”
Montoya early in his career played drums with Collins, who he studied onstage at hotel rooms between shows. He later joined John Mayal and the Bluesmakers, a band that has included a long line of guitar greats, including Peter Green and Walter Trout.
Montoya has many influences.
“I come from the school of everybody,” he said. “I try and never forget that you can always learn something.
I try to listen to a lot of old rock and roll. I loved do-wop when I was a kid. It just evolved. Everything that you hear influences you. You just soak it up when you’re into music like that.”
In 2014 Montoya released a live album with many of his greatest hits, “Songs from the Road.”
With 13 shows, the Bluesdays lineup starts earlier and ends later than it ever has. The shows are from 6-8p.m. and are free in the Village.
For the June 16 opener, there will be two bands. The Blues Monsters open at 5 p.m. followed by Montoya.
6-8 p.m. Tuesdays; free
June 16: Coco Montoya, the Blues Monsters (Special 5 p.m. start)
June 23: John Nemeth
June 30: Ron Hacker & the Hacksaws
July 7: Lydia Pense & Cold Blood
July 14: Hadden Sayers
July 21: Mark Hummel Band featuring Little Charlie Baty
July 28: Hamish Anderson
Aug 4: Chris Cain
Aug. 11: Terry Hanck
Aug. 18: The Stone Foxes
Aug. 25: The Blues Monsters
Sept. 1: Carolyn Wonderland
Sept. 8: tba