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May 2016

Curtis Salgado
The Beautiful Lowdown
Alligator Records

Curtis SalgadoCurtis Salgado is definitely at the top of his game. His first release for Alligator Records, Soul Shot, brought this bluesman from Portland a multitude of Blues Music Awards, including the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. All were well deserved and Curtis’s performances on the road that year were amazing tour de forces that I was blessed to catch on a couple of occasions. Now, Curtis is back with his second release on Alligator, The Beautiful Lowdown, and it’s a labor of love for Curtis. He had a hand in writing every tune on the record before he and producers Tony Braunagel and Marlon McLain decided to close out this disc with Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Hook Me Up.” A couple of tunes are worthy of BMA consideration for song of the year and it’s a foregone conclusion that the record itself will garner Curtis some additional nominations as well. It’s time to hit play and enjoy the ride.

“Hard to Feel the Same About Love,” finds Curtis reminiscing about a chance encounter with the first love of his life. First love is a precious thing and she’s still on Curtis’s mind. “You were my first love...taught me all about the blues…broke my heart so bad…and you know it’s true…it was hard to feel the same about love…after you.” Curtis’s heart healed, he ultimately found another love but he will never, ever forget the first girl to break his heart. Tony’s kick drum leads us to our next cut, “Low Down Dirty Shame,” and here Curtis is coming to grip with some of his faults, hoping the woman he loves won’t leave him because of his hard headedness. “It’ll be a low down dirty shame…if you don’t come with me…can’t deal without you baby…don’t ever leave me…a low down dirty shame.” We’re never sure if she stays or goes but it’s plain that Curtis loves her and wants her in his life.

Alan Hager adds some wicked slide guitar to Curtis’s next tune, “I Know a Good Thing,” and while Curtis isn’t actually looking for love he at least knows a good thing when he sees her. “The first time that I saw her…just as pretty as you please…I wasn’t looking for love…love was looking for me…I know a good thing, baby…when it comes my way.” The writing credits for “Walk a Mile in My Blues” are attributed to Curtis, David Duncan and Mike Finnegan, and collectively they crafted a gem here. Mike’s on the organ with Jim Pugh hitting the piano and they provide the intro to Curtis’s tale of woe. “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…before you criticize me…well, walk a mile in my shoes.” Curtis isn’t the only one to deal with life’s challenges but he’s not afraid to talk about them either and the only way we can truly know how he feels, is to “walk a mile in my blues.”

“Healing Love” has a much starker feel to it and here Curtis is reflecting on the feeling he’d always be alone in his life. And then she happened, “You lifted me you were sent from above…and you saved me from myself with your love…healing love.” Life is a journey best traveled with a companion and Curtis is lucky to have found the woman he thought he’d never have. Everyone’s journey takes them to different places and Curtis shares some of his experiences with us next in, “Nothing in Particular (Little Bit of Everything)”. “Just last night, yes it was…I asked you why it is…you love me like you do, sweet baby, and what you said was this, now I know you’re the one for me…you’ve got nothing in particular…and a little bit of everything.” Good for her to find the little bits of Curtis that brought her heart to his.

One of the things I like about Curtis is his willingness to take musical chances and we hear them in the reggae-influenced “Simple Enough.” “Simple enough…don’t need a masters degree…simple enough…even the blind can see…simple enough…it will always be….all about love.” Vyasa Dodson has the guitar solo to provide the intro for Curtis’s next tune, “I’m Not Made That Way,” and here Curtis tells us that winning is not everything. “Down on bended knee…I’m learning to say, please…I’m thankful for the gifts I’ve got…crucifix above me…shows how much he loves me…I cry for every gift he drops…I thank the Lord up above….that’s not what I’m made of….cause, I’m not made that way.”

Danielle Schnebelen joins Curtis for a duet on our next tune, “Is There Something I Should Know,” and here we find the two of them searching for common ground, a way to save their relationship and the love they share. “I’m a proud man, baby, I ain’t about to chase you down…and when we talk…it means nothing…you don’t smile anymore…and when I saw you this morning…well, baby…we barely said hello…so tell me….tell me, is there something I should know?” Whatever the problems are, the only way they can be solved is for the two of them to talk to each other and share the truth with each other, whatever that might be. A beautiful tune and another song I think might get BMA consideration for song of the year.

Internet dating becomes the topic of Curtis’s next tune, “My Girlfriend,” and it appears that Curtis is happy to find cyber love, under certain conditions. “You…manage my weekends…but not my life…you know I love you…I told you so…if I change my mind…I’ll let you know…you…you’re my girlfriend…but not my wife.” It doesn’t get any plainer than that. “Ring Telephone Ring” finds Curtis enamored with a beautiful woman he met at a party and he’s hoping against hope that she will call him. “So, I’m anticipating…I pace the floor waiting…hoping that you’ll call tonight…ring, telephone, ring.” She called, they went out and wedding bells are in the air.

“Hook Me Up” is the closing tune on Curtis’s disc, and he starts us off with a beautiful harp intro to the song. “Kisses taste as sweet as wine…honey, I’m so glad your mine…let the wheels of nature roll…I just want to touch your soul…” It’s fitting the Curtis closes with another viewpoint on love to bring his disc to a close.

There are so many outstanding players who contributed their talents to Curtis’s record that it’s almost impossible to list them all, but it’s clear that he’s at the top of his game with The Beautiful Lowdown. Curtis was deeply immersed in this project from the get go, writing the tunes, arranging the horns and bringing to fruition another amazing record. It’s a stellar release from Curtis Salgado, and one that will land him in multiple soul blues categories for next year’s Blues Music Awards. Cash the check, take it to the bank --- The Beautiful Lowdown is pure gold.

--- Kyle Deibler


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