‘The Beautiful Lowdown,’ Curtis Salgado’s aptly named album

Curtis Salgado's "The Beautiful Lowdown" has been released on Alligator Records. Photo by Joe Rosen
Curtis Salgado’s “The Beautiful Lowdown” has been released on Alligator Records.
Photo by Joe Rosen

Music fans in the Northwest know Curtis Salgado, but let’s run down the bullet points for the less fortunate. The most amazing are the most recent.

  • Listen to the way he sings and soars in a brawny, affecting-as-the-heavens voice on “The Beautiful Lowdown” with the knowledge that Salgado survived liver cancer in 2006, and lung cancer in 2008 and 2012. Simply astonishing.
  • Now 62, the Oregon-based dynamo made his first big impression in his 20s singing with the Robert Cray Band. Soon after he began blowing up nightclubs with his own revues of incendiary, funky blues and soul.
  • John Belushi caught a typically great night while filming “Animal House” in Eugene, and the two quickly became friends. Thus, Salgado is the acknowledged inspiration for Belushi’s “Joliet” Jake Blues character in the movie, “The Blues Brothers.”
  • Later on, he fronted Roomful Of Blues, and then Santana.

All the reasons for Curtis Salgado’s notable resume are imbedded in the grooves of this, his seventh and probably best solo album.
— Tom Clarke

Curtis Salgado The Beautiful Lowdown

With a kick to the big, classic-sounding groove and peppered butter in his voice as he reminisces about a lost love, Salgado and company get the album off to a grand start with “Hard To Feel the Same About You.” He had an aim to write an album full of memorable songs and his victory beams right off the bat, and continues throughout all 11 he had a hand in.

The lone cover is a poignant, naturally urbanized tower of soul take on Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Hook Me Up.” One of three in which Salgado showcases his prodigious chops on harp — his sweet tunefulness on it lifts the air at the album’s climax. Otherwise, there’s an eminently tender love ballad in “Healing Love,” intense back and forth suspicion in duet with ex-Trampled Underfoot singer Danielle Schnebelen on “Is There Something I Should Know,” and a steadfast, rock-hard outlook behind a telling of where he’s been — and going — on “Walk a Mile in My Blues.”

Although a huge production with more than 30 first-class players and singers contributing, the performances are never over-produced. They are very beautifully lowdown, direct-to-the-heart slices of seriously expressive song craft.

  • Curtis Salgado
    “The Beautiful Lowdown”

    Label: Alligator Records
    Release: April 8, 2016

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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