On Thursday August 25, 2016, the Ty Curtis band performed a mid week concert at the “B2 Tap House,” in South Salem, Oregon as the first of what they hope to be many other outdoor concerts, on the venue’s patio. A stage set was set up at the rear of the open area and folding chairs provided seating for those who desired it, as the show began promptly at 7:00 PM. Curtis was featuring his sixth album, Blame Me, which was recently reviewed by Blues Rock Review.
Over the past two decades, Ty has played with and opened for artists like Robert Cray, the “Doobie Brothers” and George Thorogood, to name some, along with winning a variety of awards for his brand of blues rock, both regionally and nationally. When he’s hanging out in his hometown of Salem, Oregon he plays a variety of shows all over the region, including the largest Blues festival West of the Mississippi, the “Waterfront Blues Festival,” in Portland, Oregon, over the July 4th weekend.
The current lineup of the “Ty Curtis Band” is Ty on lead vocals and lead guitar, longtime drummer Jerry Jacques driving the locomotive beat on his drum kit and “Latin Award” winning 5 string electric bass player, Tony Valdez. The first set was primarily made up of songs off Blame Me, and provided the trio ample opportunity to mix it up. Ty is a showman, but at the same time he understands the importance of dissolving the boundary between the stage and the audience so as to allow their energies to mix and transcend the norm. Curtis opened with “That Good,” the first song on the new album, as he destroyed the boundaries by walking out into the audience as he continued to play without missing a beat. The modern wonders of radio signals replacing tangled chords allows the musical artist artists of the 21st century to do what artists like the “Grateful Dead” and Bruce Springsteen pioneered in their 20th century performances.
With a voice reminiscent of Paul Rodgers from Bad Company, “The Firm,” etc., Curtis attacked the guitar with a fury that was a cross between Henry Vestine (“Canned Heat”) and Phil Keaggy (Gospel lead guitarist). Ty, Jerry and Tony mixed it up and jammed as they magically worked their way through a set list that even included a punk rock variation of a Bob Dylan song. “Blame Me,” the title song of the new album ended the first set as the trio jammed together until Ty exploded off the stage into the audience again, playing up and down the main aisle, even posing with people taking selfies as he played, until he worked his way back on stage to announce that they were going to take a short break.
After about 15 minutes the band began their second set with “Key To My Heart,” the first song off Curtis’s 5th album, Water Under The Bridge, as he played his Gibson like it was part of his body, whose function was to satisfy the crowds tympanic membranes. The band was playing at maximum efficiency and was “tight.” Ty excitedly told the crowd that his songs were being played by radio stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan and even London, England, as he continued to wail on both vocal and guitar until the crowd was bobbing its heads in time to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” The song included some phenomenal guitar shredding, along with jamming between members of the trio at spring snapping tightness. The final song of the night was “Feel What I Feel,” the title song off Curtis’s 2012 release, which was co-produced by Jacob Peterson of the Steve Miller Band. At one point the police came by because of a complaint about the noise, but they were assured that the concert would end by 9:00 PM, which it did.
Review by Bob Gersztyn