One of the biggest shows of the month is Curtis Salgado’s return to play Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre on Saturday, May 14. Salgado took home the Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year in the 2011 Blues Music Awards. He’s nominated in the same category this year. Winners of the 32nd Annual Blues Music Awards will be announced in a ceremony Thursday, May 5, in Memphis. Salgado is a powerhouse soul-blues vocalist who’s spent a lifetime perfecting his craft. His voice drips with emotion and he fills his songs with heart and soul. He can also rock the house with funk and R&B. His most recent disc, Clean Getaway (2008), was called “one of the best records you’ll hear this year” by Blues Revue magazine. “If you pine for the glory days of Stax soul, Al Green ballads and blues-soaked R&B — music that hits hard and makes you want to move — Salgado delivers,” Blues Revue raved. Salgado also has deep ties to the Omaha area. In 2006, he received a life-saving liver transplant at UNMC’s Lied Transplant Center and spent the first three months of his recuperation here in the metro. His resume includes an early claim to fame that current fans may not know about. Salgado was the inspiration for John Belushi’s character in The Blues Brothers sketches and movies. Next time you watch the film, pay attention. Cab Calloway’s character is named Curtis in honor of Salgado’s contribution to Belushi’s love of the blues. The original Blues Brothers album is also dedicated to Salgado. Salgado was living in Eugene, Ore., and playing in a highly popular band called The Nighthawks, not to be confused with the popular Washington, D.C., band that uses the name. John Belushi was in Eugene to shoot Animal House and soon Salgado and Belushi became friends. In a 2001 interview with Salgado that I conducted for Blues Access magazine, Salgado talked about those days. “I was bringing my material over to his house … blues records. He was not listening to the blues. He was listening to Blue Oyster Cult, and Ozzie, Black Sabbath. I brought him over Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Slim, Little Walter … and when he came to see The Nighthawks, guess what? It was us that was doing “Groove Me” by King Floyd, it was us that was doing “Soul Man.” And it was us that was doing “I Don’t Know” and “Messin’ with the Kid.” We were also playing, and I taught him, by Floyd Dixon, “Hey Bartender,” because he wanted to jam with The Nighthawks.” It was also Salgado, circa 1977, who was sporting Ray Ban sunglasses, a dark suit and a soul patch. All these details went into Belushi’s formation of his “Joliet” Jake Blues character. “The bands they used was Curtis Salgado and The Nighthawks, Roomful of Blues and a band in Canada called the Downchild Blues Band. Then they made it a hybrid and put their characters together with the brilliance of Dan Aykroyd and the brilliance of John. Make no mistake, they are The Blues Brothers, this whole thing is them. “It actually relaunched and reintroduced to a whole new generation and maybe some people who had forgot: blues guys. I am an essential part of that, because it started with me. It was a good thing.” For the full interview see BluesAccess.com/No_44/salgado.html. For more on Salgado including an archival interview where Belushi talks about their friendship, visit CurtisSalgado.com. The May 14 show at Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre, 1415 O St., is Salgado’s only gig in the area. It’s an awareness event for the Mental Health Association of Nebraska. The Brad Cordle Band and The Blues Project open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at ETix.com. Nebraska Blues Challenge The third Nebraska Blues Challenge preliminary was held on Sunday, May 1. Performing were the Luther James Band, the Paul Scott Hoagbin Trio, 112 North Duck and Elwin James & The Way Outs. Judging this round were local blues radio personalities Rick Galusha of KIWR, Mike Jacobs of KIOS and Phil Steele of Lincoln’s KZUM. Third round winners Elwin James & The Way Outs will perform in the finals with the Lil’ Slim Blues Band and Brad Cordle Band. The Nebraska Blues Challenge finals are Sunday, May 15, 5 p.m. at The 21st Saloon. See OmahaBlues.com for details. Robert Johnson’s 100th Birthday KIOS 91.5 FM presents a special documentary tribute to Robert Johnson on May 8, at 7 p.m. The program Last Fair Deal Gone Down celebrates the centennial of Johnson’s birthday. The seminal bluesman was born May 8, 1911. Though he died at the age of 26 under mysterious circumstances, Johnson continues to have an impact on the blues. Hot Notes Sunday Roadhouse presents Chuck Mead of BR549 at The Waiting Room on Sunday, May 8, at 5 p.m. The Sunday Roadhouse teams with One Percent Productions to present Lucinda Williams at Slowdown on Monday, May 16. See SundayRoadhouse.com. Oregon’s Too Slim & The Taildraggers are at The 21st Saloon on Thursday, May 5, at 5:30 p.m. Visit HoodooRootsBlues.blogspot.com for Hoodoo updates.