Saturday night at the Edmonton Blues Festival we’ll be treated to a performance by The Curtis Salgado band , but Sunday may be even more fun, with the new Curtis Salgado/Alan Hager duo tearing it up, acoustically.
Award-winning soul, blues and R&B vocalist Curtis Salgado’s earth-shaking vocals and forceful harmonica playing have been devastating audiences around the world for over 30 years. Guitarist Alan Hager has been wowing fellow musicians from his hometown of Portland, Oregon and beyond for decades. Hager has been jamming with Salgado since 2003, and joined his band full-time in 2015. Together, the two blues fans and friends took time out of their busy touring schedule to record Rough Cut, a stripped-down album featuring a potent mix of newly written, timeless originals and carefully chosen blues covers. “We did it for the love of the music,” says Salgado. “This is where our hearts are. These are deep songs that we love to play.”
“He’s the best player in the business, unlike anybody else,” Salgado says of Hager. “One reason I made this record was to show him off.”
Born in Portland, Oregon, Alan Hager has taken a long and fascinating journey to his current spot as lead guitarist in Salgado’s band. He first picked up a guitar at age ten and became a blues and jazz prodigy. He was playing local clubs as a teenager before heading to Boston’s Berklee School of Music, where he studied under the tutelage of jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny. A year later he was studying classical music at the famed New England Conservatory of Music, where he graduated in 1979. During the 1980s he toured as part of a classical guitar duo and took up teaching, which he still does. But he never fell out of love with the blues, especially the old Delta sounds of Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson and Skip James. He moved back to Portland in 1988 and soon met fellow blues aficionado Curtis Salgado. They have been making music together since 2003, with Curtis’voice and harmonica and Alan’s hypnotic guitar work perfectly complementing each other.
Salgado joined Alligator Records in 2012, debuting with the award-winning, critically acclaimed Soul Shot in 2012 followed by The Beautiful Lowdown in 2016. Salgado won three 2013 Blues Music Awards including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year. He also won for Soul Blues Male Artist Of The Year, and for Soul Blues Album Of The Year. In 2017 Salgado won three more Blues Music Awards: Soul Blues Album Of The Year for The Beautiful Lowdown, Song Of The Year for Walk A Mile In My Blues and Soul Blues Male Artist Of The Year.
With Curtis’ inspired singing and world-class harmonica playing and Alan’s spellbinding guitar, Rough Cut is the album Salgado and Hager have always wanted to make together—soulful, sparse, haunting—a blues lover’s dream come true. The music is a moving exploration of the joyful, emotionally uplifting power of passionately played and soulfully sung acoustic blues. They’ll perform together as a duo both on their own and during Curtis’ full band shows, giving their fans a taste of what Alan calls “American Classical music.” “This type of music moves us the most,” says Salgado. “You believe it when you hear it.”