Coco Montoya apprenticed with Albert Collins and The Icebreakers for five years and with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for ten. In 1993 he broke-out and formed his own band and never looked back.
Montoya’s debut recording was 1995’s “Gotta Mind to Travel” on Blind Pig Records. Montoya released two more albums on Blind Pig before switching labels and signing with Alligator Records. Montoya released three albums on Alligator the last being 2007’s “Dirty Deal”. Montoya left Alligator and in 2010 released “I Want It All Back” on Ruf Records and followed up with 2014’s “Songs from The Road”.
Montoya is a “force” on the guitar. He plays a left handed guitar with the strings upside down. He is also a passionate singer. “Hard Truth” marks Montoya’s return to the Alligator label. The band includes Montoya, guitar and vocals; Mike Finnigan, keyboards; Billy Watts, rhythm guitar; Johnny Lee Schell, rhythm and slide guitar; and producer/drummer Tony Braunagel. Backing vocalists include Teresa James and Deb Ryder.
Montoya has co-written two songs for this new recording with his writing partner Dave Steen; “Hard As Hell” and “Truth Be Told”. Apparently the albums title comes from the combination of these two song titles. Steen also contributes “Lost in The Bottle” with Lee Roy Parnell added on slide.
The remaining eight tracks are songs selected by Montoya and/or Braunagel. As a tribute to his mentor, Montoya includes one of Collins’ songs on each of his albums. This time it’s “The Moon is Full” which appeared on the 1985 Grammy winning “Showdown” recorded with Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray. The song was written by Collins’ wife Gwen.
“Before The Bullets Fly” was written by Warren Haynes, John Jaworwicz and Henry Williams and originally recorded by The Gregg Allman Band. “You know I’m getting’ outta’ here just before the bullets fly”. It’s actually Montoya’s notes that are flyin’.
My favorite song just might be “I Want To Shout About It” written by Steve Gomes and Ronnie Earl and recorded by The Broadcasters. Montoya’s version is a soulful vocal.
“’Bout To Make Me Leave Home” was written by Edward Earl Randle a writer who worked for Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records, it was recorded by Syl Johnson in 1975.
“Where Can A Man Go From Here” is from Homer Banks and Allen A. Jones Jr. who were songwriters for Stax Records; Johnnie Taylor recorded it in 1968. “I’ll Find Someone Who Will” was co-authored by Teresa James and her husband Terry Wilson.
Montoya learned to interpret songs his own way from his mentor Collins. These great songs have become his own. This just may be the best we have ever heard from Montoya.
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