“’Just play what you feel, be real about it, and enjoy yourself.’ That’s what Albert Collins taught me,” says the award-winning guitar virtuoso and soul-deep singer Coco Montoya. The self-taught, left-handed Montoya mastered his craft under Collins’ tutelage. Incorporating lessons learned from his mentors, the iconic Collins (for whom he originally drummed), and UK legend John Mayall, Montoya puts his own stamp onto every song he performs. Since his first solo album in 1995 (which won him the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist), Montoya’s endlessly inventive guitar work and passionate, hard-hitting vocals have kept him at the top of the blues world. With his new Alligator Records album, Writing On The Wall (his sixth for the label), Montoya delivers what he is already calling one of the best records he’s ever made. For the very first time on Alligator, he decided to bring his road-tested band—noted keyboardist and songwriter Jeff Paris (Keb’ Mo’, Bill Withers), bassist Nathan Brown, and drummer Rena Beavers—into the studio with him. Between the camaraderie of the long-time bandmates and the sheer talent of all involved, the results have left Coco, in his words, “over the moon.”
Produced by Grammy Award-winner Tony Braunagel (Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal) and co-produced by Jeff Paris, Writing On The Wall is a tour-de-force of memorable, hook-filled songs, sung with passion and fueled by equally memorable, top shelf musicianship. The 13 tracks include five written or co-written by Montoya. The set opens with a signature, career-defining performance of the soul-baring I Was Wrong, written for Coco by songwriter Dave Steen. From the blistering Save It For The Next Fool to the enjoy now/pay later philosophy of Jeff Paris’ (I’d Rather Feel) Bad About Doin’ It to the riveting reinvention of Lonnie Mack’s Stop, Montoya delivers each song with heart-pounding emotion. Special guest Lee Roy Parnell adds his well-seasoned slide guitar to the smoldering A Chip And A Chair. And Coco’s friend, guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks (son of late Alligator star Lonnie Brooks), joins in for some good-natured fun on the droll Baby, You’re A Drag and adds his blistering playing to the searing cover of Bobby Bland’s You Got Me.
Now, with the dynamic Writing On The Wall and a tour calendar busting at the seams, Coco Montoya is as excited as he’s ever been to perform the new songs live with his burning-hot band. Montoya’s well-earned reputation as an eye-popping live performer precedes him. Vintage Guitar states, “Coco keeps getting better and better. He plays with fire and passion rarely seen in this day and age.” Billboard declares, “In a world of blues guitar pretenders, Coco Montoya is the real McCoy. He exudes power and authenticity. Be prepared to get scorched by the real thing.”