I first caught Salgado at Jonathan's Swift's in Cambridge some time in the 80s when he was fronting an early Roomful of Blues crew. I was hosting a bunch of visiting Swedish librarians on a cold, snowy, New England night, and, after a few instrumentals, a young Salgado, in a trim, black tux, bounded onto the stage to join the band and energetically warm up the cavernous club in no time at all. I don't know who was more impressed: me or the somber Swedes. If you want a taste, listen to Roomful of Blues' 1987 "Live at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel."
Salgado started his career in Eugene, Oregon, where for six years he was lead singer for Robert Cray's band. You can hear him on Cray's first album, "Who's Been Talkin'," recorded in 1980, singing a rollicking duet with Cray on O.V. Wright's "I'm Gonna Forget About You."
While filming "Animal House" in Eugene, John Belushi saw Salgado perform and patterned his role in the Blues Brothers after him. There is still no doubt that Salgado is the coolest white blues singer around, with the possible exception of Pittsburgh's Billy Price.
I've seen Salgado several times in the intervening years, and his voice remains as strong and soulful as ever, despite several bouts of lung and liver cancer and quadruple bypass surgery. One of the most memorable times was on the patio at Humphrey's here in Huntsville, not long after the release of his 2012 album "Soul Shot." He was gracious enough to join us at our table during a break and chat about his career and the state of the blues in America, where he continues to tour regularly, appearing in clubs, concerts, and festivals everywhere.