April 7, 2011 |

Original 'blues brother' to perform; Fair music will include dubstep deejay, looping artist

Curtis Salgado, a Portland-area blues artist whose act inspired "The Blues Brothers," is among headliners at the 43rd Southeast Alaska State Fair, set July 28-31.

This year’s entertainment honors the tradition of blues at the fair, but also introduces new sounds, including a dub-step deejay mixing sounds to create a club-scene dance vibe, an Australian one-man-band "looping artist," and a Greek ethnic fusion band performing with belly dancers.

"We wanted to give a cultural feel and sound to it, to open people’s eyes to something new," said Gabe Kutcher, who’s serving as co-entertainment director with Beth Bolander.

There’s also an Alaskan angle, as Australian Claude Hay and the Portland duo Hillstomp are do-it-yourselfers whose music relies on homemade instruments to create unique sounds. Described as a "punk blues" band, Hillstomp’s niche begins with a drum set made of five-gallon, plastic buckets.

"The sound they put out is incredible. It’s a big sound from non-traditional instruments," Kutcher said. "They’re lively and energetic. They really get a crowd moving."

Haines will be the first U.S. performance for Hay, who was featured on National Public Radio last fall. His second album, "Deep Fried Satisfied," an ode to greasy food, was described by one critic as "an 11-track primer in how to be a guitar god in 11 easy steps." The album broke into the Top Ten on Billboard magazine’s blues chart and is noted for its unique redo of Queen’s "We Will Rock You."

Hay’s "looping" involves recording small sections of music and replaying them continuously while adding successive layers of music on top. Hay will be in Haines five days and will give multiple workshops.

The five-man band, .357 Stringband, should crank up the weekend crowds, with their version of "streetgrass," they describe as a "faster, meaner" folk music tinged with "fatalistic murder ballads, sneering outlaw country and unforgiving gospel - as well as their own background coming of age in Milwaukee’s punk and rockabilly scenes."

Kutcher said the band performs rowdy shows akin to ones by last year’s fair act Trampled by Turtles. The bands share the same agent.

The belly dancers are part of the seven-member Traveler, an Arizona band that combines gypsy, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music with rock-n-roll. Band leader Scott Jeffers specializes in obscure instruments including the Greek bouzouki and the Arabic oud.

A harmonica player and soul singer, bluesman Salgado is an R & B artist bringing a seven-man band to the fair Friday. He worked a stint as lead vocalist of Santana and was lead singer of the Robert Cray band for six years, including during its debut album.

Salgado has been nominated four times for Blues Foundation awards and once was named its male artist of the year for soul and blues.

"He’s a blues legend. People flock to see him," said Kutcher. Salgado will appeal to older fairgoers but also to younger ones who appreciate good music, he said.

Comic actor John Belushi was in Eugene, Ore. filming "National Lampoon’s Animal House" in 1977, when he strolled into a hotel lounge and saw Salgado’s act, which he used as the basis for "The Blues Brothers."

Salgado taught Belushi and partner Dan Akroyd half the songs on the The Blues Brothers’ debut album, "Briefcase Full of Blues," which is dedicated to Salgado. Belushi even borrowed Salgado’s dark-rimmed sunglasses and lower-lip "soul patch" for the group’s look.

"(Salgado’s) got a lot of appeal in terms of star quality and charisma on stage," Belushi told an interviewer in 1979. "He reminded me a lot of Dan Akroyd."

Also on Friday, dub-step deejay Pressha of Seattle will use a laptop computer to mix a variety of sounds live. Kutcher said he predicts the act will be a pleasant surprise for fairgoers not familiar with the genre

The fair’s kinetic act features "Flamebuoyant," a seven-person circus group from Portland that includes stilt-walkers, juggling and a live-fire show. The group has performed at the Burning Man festival and at music festivals in the Northwest.

Returning regional acts will include Ray Troll of Ketchikan, and Sasquatch Prom Date and Nicole Edwards of Whitehorse, Y.T.

Kutcher said samples of the groups’ music can be found through the fair’s website, www.seakfair.org. There’s also a Facebook page at Southeast Alaska State Fair.

Other upcoming fair events include 6th annual Spring Fling,6 p.m. May 7 at the renovated Harriett Hall; 19th Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival, May 27-28 at the fairgrounds and Haines Fishermen’s King Salmon Barbecue, 6 p.m. June 18 at Dalton City.