Curtis Salgado: ‘Music is saving my life’

“You can’t believe this here life, and all the things I’ve been through.
I’ve been knocked down so many times, hard times ain’t nothing new.
I’ve been cut from stem to stern, sewn back up again.
Lost my brother to the needle, lost my wife to her best friend.
Oh, you’ll never know just what it takes to fill these shoes.
Before you criticize me, walk a mile in my blues.”

– Curtis Salgado’s ‘Walk a Mile in my Blues’

This time the urgent news for Curtis Salgado was really good: The singer nominated for three Blues Music Awards won all three.

Standing in a hospital cafeteria line, Salgado said, “I sure didn’t expect to sweep it. That’s a nice thing to be able to say. ‘I swept the awards.’ ”

Curtis Salgado
Curtis Salgado won three 2017 Blues Music Awards.
Photo by Paul Natkin, provided by Alligator Records.

Salgado was honored for Album Of The Year for “The Beautiful Lowdown,” Soul Blues Artist Of The Year, and Song Of The Year for “Walk A Mile In My Blues.”

Salgado, 64, was unable to attend last night’s Blues Foundation event in Memphis. He is recovering from quadruple bypass surgery on March 10. Instead, Salgado sent a video message that was displayed for the audience at the Cook Convention Center, congratulating all of the nominees and delivering an update on his condition.

“I got the blues because the doctor told me I can’t have pork ribs and hotlinks and sweet potato pie, which I’m pretty sure everybody there was eating,” he said.

“My whole life has changed because of this surgery,” he said in a cellphone interview the following day. It’s a whole new world for me.”

Salgado won his fourth BMA for “Soul Blues Artist of the Year,” and it’s the second time he won for Soul Blues Album. In 2012, he won the BMA for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year,” the year his tune “20 Years of B.B. King,” was nominated for Best Song.

Of his three 2017 awards, Salgado is especially pleased to win Best Song. He and Michael Finigan wrote the music for “Walk a Mile in My Blues” and he and David Duncan wrote the lyrics.

He said he knew his autobiographic “Walk a Mile in My Blues” was good because of the reception it received during shows and because “It was doing pretty good on Apple Music. We actually got a check, which is rare.”

“I also knew that ’20 Years of B.B. King’ was special and it was nominated but I lost to Kenny Neal,” he said. “(This year’s) award means a lot to me. I love the songwriting craft and I am trying very hard to be a songwriter. I love songwriters and story tellers and I wish to be one. I knew the song was special. But the competition was stiff.”

On Friday, he had just left the hospital’s gym where doctors kicked him off a rowing machine, telling him he needed to wait another week before doing that exercise.

“I wanna get better … and I’m a little impatient, I guess,” said Salgado, who plans to return to the stage on the Fourth of July at the Waterfront Blues Festival in his hometown Portland, Oregon.

The reception for Salgado no doubt will be powerful and heartfelt. The man with a sweet voice is the toughest of fighters. He survived liver cancer in 2006, and lung cancer reappeared in 2012 and part of his lung was removed

“Everybody’s so nice and loving and very giving,” Salgado said. “You know music is saving my life, literally. The fans and my constituents and the people are saving my life. Rhythm and blues is keeping my head above water and the people are helping me stay alive. It’s hard to express. I owe the universe.”

Curtis Salgado The Beautiful LowdownThrough youcaring.com, supporters have donated $24,000 to help pay for the medical expenses.

Salgado often has been on the bad end of bad news.

“I didn’t know I had cancer — I went in for another reason — and they said you’ve got cancer you’ve got six months to live unless you get a liver transplant,” he said. “That’s a long story but a handful of miracles happened and with no health insurance I (survived).

“This was different but again it came out of the blue. They said we think you’ve had a mild heart attack, and we had better check it out. Then they said your heart is really not very healthy and if we don’t operate on you within the next 48 hours we think you’re doomed.”

Salgado says courage did not play a role in his recoveries.

“What choice do I have?,” he said. “You buck up and put on your big boy pants and get down the line.”

-Tim Parsons

Album review: “Beautiful Lowdown”


Curtis Salgado, Susan Tedeschi and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Neal and Bobby Rush were multiple winners at the 38th Blues Music Awards, hosted May 11 by the Blues Foundation at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

  • 38th Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards
    May, 11, 2017
    Cook Convention Center, Memphis
  • Song: “Walk A Mile In My Blues” written by David Duncan, Curtis Salgado & Mike Finnigan and performed by Curtis Salgado on The Beautiful Lowdown
    “Blues Immigrant” written by Matthew Skoller & Vincent Bucher and performed by Matthew Skoller on Blues Immigrant
    “I Gotta Sang The Blues” written and performed by Thornetta Davis on Honest Woman
    “Seeing Is Believing” written by Ray Norcia and performed by Sugar Ray & The Bluetones on Seeing Is Believing
    “Walk it Off” written and performed by Toronzo Cannon on The Chicago Way
  • Band: Tedeschi Trucks Band
    Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
    Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
    Nick Moss Band
    Sugar Ray and the Bluetones
  • B.B. King Entertainer: Joe Bonamassa
    John Nemeth
    Lil’ Ed Williams
    Sugar Ray Norcia
    Sugaray Rayford
  • Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female Artist): Diunna Greenleaf
    Annika Chambers
    Inetta Visor
    Shaun Murphy
    Trudy Lynn
  • Traditional Blues Male Artist: Bob Margolin
    John Primer
    Lil’ Ed Williams
    Lurrie Bell
    Sugar Ray Norcia
  • Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Susan Tedeschi
    Alexis P Suter
    Ana Popovic
    Janiva Magness
    Shemekia Copeland
  • Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Kenny Neal
    Albert Castiglia
    Mike Zito
    Sugaray Rayford
    Toronzo Cannon
  • Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
    Bettye Lavette
    Lara Price
    Terrie Odabi
    Vaneese Thomas
  • Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado
    Johnny Rawls
    Wee Willie Walker
    William Bell
  • Acoustic Artist: Doug MacLeod
    Eric Bibb
    Fiona Boyes
    Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
    Luther Dickinson
  • Album: Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
    Kenny Neal – Bloodline
    Nick Moss Band – From the Root to the Fruit
    Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Seeing is Believing
    Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way
    William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Contemporary Blues Album: Kenny Neal – Bloodline
    Al Basile – Mid Century Modern
    Nick Moss Band – From the Root to the Fruit
    The Record Company – Give It Back To You
    Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way
  • Rock Blues Album: Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By
    Albert Castiglia – Big Dog
    Mike Zito – Keep Coming Back
    Moreland & Arbuckle – Promised Land or Bust
    Walter Trout – Alive in Amsterdam
  • Soul Blues Album: Curtis Salgado – The Beautiful Lowdown
    Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
    Johnny Rawls – Tiger in a Cage
    Wee Willie Walker – Live! Notodden Blues Festival
    William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Traditional Blues Album: Lurrie Bell – Can’t Shake This Feeling
    Big Jon Atkinson & Bob Corritore – House Party at Big Jon’s
    Bob Margolin – My Road
    Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue – Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
    Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Seeing is Believing
  • Acoustic Album: Eric Bibb – The Happiest Man in the World
    Fiona Boyes – Professin’ the Blues
    Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Live at Briggs Farm
    John Long – Stand Your Ground
    Luther Dickinson – Blues and Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Vol I and II
  • Best Emerging Artist Album: Jonn Del Toro Richardson – Tengo Blues
    Corey Dennison Band – Corey Dennison Band
    Guy King – Truth
    Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul
    Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman
  • Historical Album: Bobby Rush, Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush, Omnivore Recordings
    Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, A Music Man Like Nobody Ever Saw, Bear Family Records
    B.B. King, More B.B. King: Here’s One You Haven’t Heard, Ace Records
    Doug MacLeod – Live in Europe, Under the Radar and Doug MacLeod
    Michael Burks, I’m A Bluesman, Iron Man Records
    Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends, Elrob Records
  • Instrumentalist
    Horn: Terry Hanck

    Al Basile
    Nancy Wright
    Sax Gordon Beadle
    Vanessa Collier
  • Bass: Biscuit Miller
    Bob Stroger
    Michael “Mudcat” Ward
    Patrick Rynn
    R W Grigsby
  • Drums: Cedric Burnside
    Jimi Bott
    June Core
    Tom Hambridge
    Tony Braunagel
  • Guitar: Joe Bonamassa
    Bob Margolin
    Kid Andersen
    Monster Mike Welch
    Ronnie Earl
  • Harmonica: Kim Wilson
    Dennis Gruenling
    Jason Ricci
    Mark Hummel
    Sugar Ray Norcia
  • Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Victor Wainwright
    Anthony Geraci
    Barrelhouse Chuck
    Henry Gray
    Jim Pugh

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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