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“‘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.”