“The blues are about the transcendence of the difficulties of living that all people face; they are a testament to that struggle. The blues also exist as sound AND feeling AND and as particular social histories and musical trajectories.”
“For me, truth and honesty are the blues artist’s greatest assets. I seek those qualities, above all, in my own music.”
Guggenheim and Fulbright award-winning guitarist, composer, and producer Cristian Amigo hears and plays contemporary blues with an open ear and mind. Inspired by funky sounds drawn from styles ranging from country blues to jazz blues, Chicago electric blues to r&b, and from London to Mali to NYC to Bolivia. Amigo draws inspiration and technique from classic artists, and from many local Miami, LA, and NYC music heroes and teachers where he has lived and played.
In his four decade musical career, he has collaborated with hundreds of artists including Grammy, Pulitzer, Oscar, Emmy, and MacArthur genius winners (see name drop list). As a student of music  he earned a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA and studied with Kenny Burrell, Wadada Leo Smith, Cheik Tidiane Seck, Harihar Rao, Randy Wolff, and Bern Nix. The 2012 New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Oxford Press) contains an entry on Amigo and his music. Recent performances include the NYC Latin FreeJazz Festival, Vision Festival, NYC Alternative Guitar Festival, and The World Festival of Sacred Music (LA). He is currently composer-in-residence at INTAR Latino Theater in New York City and teaches music at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
The return to a blues focus is a return to Amigo’s musical beginnings in the late 1970s as a child from Latin America fascinated with the sounds of America and AM and FM radio, and especially, American black music and British rock. Amigo’s goal since he began playing the guitar at twelve was to “become the best musician and guitarist I could possibly be, and that song remains the same. In order to do that, my teachers and elders insisted that I Iisten to and study the best musicians in the world. So my real blues influences range from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Patton to Jelly Roll Morton to Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk to Big Mama Thornton to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Miles Davis to Muddy Waters, George Benson to Curtis Mayfield, John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix to Ornette Coleman to Led Zeppelin to Sonny Sharrock to Ali Farka Toure and beyond.”
In 2017, Amigo was on a Fulbright Artist/Scholar in Cochabamba, Bolivia, teaching blues and jazz improvisation at the local university, a community music school, and a music school for orphans. While there, Amigo also became a visiting guitarist with Bolivia’s classic Tiquipaya Golden Blues Band and Blueselektrico. Invited to perform in the 2017 La Paz International Blues Festival, Amigo had to decline because of an injury and is back home in NYC healing and putting together a new group with singer/multi-instrumentalist/actor Kevin Mambo (who played Fela on Broadway and Floyd in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars). “We’re putting together a blues band that rocks and grooves hard but functions like a jazz band. In this way we cover a huge dynamic and stylistic range of influences from R&B to boogie to Afro-pop to cumbia to dub. That’s the multi-everything blues band we’ll put together in New York.
” Guitarist-composer Cristian Amigo straddles the contemporary-classical, improv and rock worlds; no wonder he calls his Kingdom of Jones a “new music jam-band.” During any given performance, Messiaen grapples with Led Zeppelin while Perez Prado teaches Stravinsky to mambo.”
“ I kind of hate myself for digging this abrasive clatter [War is Good for Business] because it’s galaxies away from my Beatles- and Beethoven-forged sense of composition. But it rocks real hard against its orchestra of bloops and bleeps, and then breaks down to a mournful sound collage. A great theme for Halliburton’s symphony of opportunism.
“Cristian Amigo is an excellent creative artist, guitarist and composer whose works reflect his concern with tradition and innovation in creative music in America.”
– WADADA LEO SMITH (AACM composer/trumpeter)

3 Responses to

  1. Pingback: Coney Island's mayor says: don't elect (or shoot) a Republican

  2. Margaret LeGrand McDonald says:

    Hey Christian! I know you do not remember me but we went to school at St. Aedan’s in New Haven CT. I remember crying to my mom because the horrible teacher put you in the coat closet for a very long time. I googled you and I am happy to see you are doing so well. Glad we both survived our Catholic school upbringing! Best to you and your family. Margaret LeGrand McDonald

    • OMG. I totally remember you. I hope all is well with you too. Visited St. Aedans a few years back…quite a different place these days. I am in touch with Oscar Okwu and Patrick MacCormack from our grade. I did survive, but am kind of anti-clerical these days, probably because of the closet. 🙂 I’m on FB is you would like to communicate that way. also, my email is Really nice to hear from you. The best recent news is that I have a one year old daughter Daisy (my first) and I am overwhelmed with love for her.

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