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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment October 20, 2014

7/16/2013 12:54:00 PM
Bluesman is a survivor
Curtis Salgado, right, has seen hard times and emerged triumphant. photo by Jim Williams
+ click to enlarge
Curtis Salgado, right, has seen hard times and emerged triumphant. photo by Jim Williams

By Jim Williams

One year ago this past July, Curtis Salgado walked into a small southeast Portland blues club, got out his harmonica and began to play and sing. This should come as no surprise to those who have followed Salgado's nearly 40-year career. The unusual thing was that was that nine days earlier Salgado was in a hospital getting a portion of his cancerous lung removed. No problem for this soul survivor.

Long an icon in the blues, soul, and R&B scene in this area, Salgado and his band will be making their second appearance at the Live at the Ranch summer concert series this Saturday, July 21, at 5 p.m.

Now 59, Salgado is coming off a year where he recorded perhaps the best and most successful album of his career in "Soul Shot," and a month later being diagnosed with lung cancer after being free of the liver cancer he was diagnosed with in 2005.

With the record out and a tour in the works, the cancer couldn't have come at a worse time.

"Well, I was pissed off when I found out," said Salgado. "There is never a good time to get cancer, but I've got a brand-new record out and it was doing well. We were lining up concert dates and it's like, right now is not a good time to have my lung yanked out. I mean we're talking about four weeks of concerts cancelled ... right in the momentum of the record. It's like, 'Aw shoot.'"

Fearful that he might not be able to sing and play the same, just nine days after surgery Salgado showed up at Duff's Garage in Portland that magical night and put on a show that left the patrons there in disbelief. If Salgado had any worries about his ability to perform, he put them to rest that night.

Once fully recovered, Salgado hit the road to support Soul Shot and just recently finished up a small tour of Europe.

The response to Soul Shot and Salgado's touring has paid off in a big way. In May, during the 34th annual Blues Music awards in Memphis, Salgado took home three trophies including the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. He was also named Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, and Soul Shot was named Soul Blues Album of the Year.

Success like this is no stranger to Salgado. He was named Soul Blues Artist of the Year in 2010, and top Soul Blues Male Artist in 2012.

The story of Curtis Salgado wouldn't be complete without a further look back. The story goes something like this: This guy named John Belushi was in Eugene filming this little movie called "Animal House." Belushi caught Salgado one evening during a break in filming. Belushi was so taken by Salgado's powerful singing and harmonica playing that nearly right there on the spot he was inspired to create The Blues Brothers for himself and Dan Aykroyd, his Saturday Night Live partner. Their first album, "Briefcase Full of Blues," was dedicated to Salgado. A movie and another album later, the Blues Brothers became a big success, only to see that success derailed after the death of Belushi in 1982.

In the meantime, Salgado continued to play with co-bandmate Robert Cray, toured with Roomful of Blues, Steve Miller, and had a brief stint in Santana before his first cancer diagnosis in 2005.

Tickets for the BBR show are $18 in advance, $20 on the day of the show.

For more information call concert coordinator Katie Williams at 541-595-1510 or visit

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