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Guitarist Coco Montoya will perform at the Egyptian Theatre's Summer Blooms fundraiser on July 6 at Stein Eriksen Lodge. (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Theatre)
The Egyptian Theatre will welcome summer with a new annual celebration called the Summer Blooms at the Stein Eriksen Lodge on Tuesday, July 6, from 5:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

The event, which is designed to be a counterpart to the theater's First Winter Blast, is also a fundraiser for the venue that will feature a reception, multi-course dinner, a live auction and a silent one.

The highlight will be a concert performed by renowned guitarist Coco Montoya and his band — keyboardist Brant Leeper, bassist Nathan Brown and drummer Rena Beavers.

Montoya, who spoke with The Park Record during a phone call from his home in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, Calif., said he was looking forward to the show.

"I love stuff like that," he said. "I love the fact that people do get together and preserve places like the Egyptian Theatre, because this type of thing is important for the arts and if we lose something like this, people will feel the loss eventually.

"I'm all up for this kind of stuff," Montoya said. "It's important to have these venues for people to play in and for people to attend performances in."

Although most people know Montoya's guitar work though his albums or years with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers during the 1980s, many may be surprised that he originally started his music training as a drummer.

"I was 11 when I got my first drum set, and I knew I wanted to do that after I saw someone play," he said. "I would go to all these theme parks to see bands."

Feeding his love of drums was bandleader Johnny Otis, who had his own show in the 1950s, but in the 1960s, things changed for Montoya.

"I started playing guitar when I was 13," he said. "Mom got me an acoustic guitar because I wanted to be one of the Beatles, and I got into the 'British Invasion.'"

After seeing Eric Clapton and John Mayall, Montoya took up the guitar in earnest and was mentored by blues legend Albert Collins. the late 1970s, however, Montoya regulated himself to weekend shows.

"There wasn't much for blues players to do, because everything was disco and funk," he said. "So I went and got a day job, figuring my professional playing days were over."

During one of his weekend stints, Montoya met Mayall, who hired him in 1984.

From then until now it has been a love of music that has kept Montoya playing.

"That's what it comes down to," he said. "Even when I wasn't really in the business, I still enjoyed playing. It was quite liberating to do that and not worry about where the next paycheck was coming from. If I felt like jamming I would. If not, I wouldn't. But I still loved the music."

Montoya's most recent CD is 2010's "I Want It All Back." The album, which was produced by Keb' Mo' and Jeff Paris, is his seventh.

"There is a process of finding the material you're going to record as well as what you're going to attempt to write," he said. "I'm not Paul Simon. Songs just don't fall out of me, nor do I sweat them off my brow. But I have some great people I write with — Jeff Paris being one, Dave Steen, who is all over my albums, and Gary Nicholson, who is out of Nashville."

Montoya also worked with other respected musicians during the recording process.

"Keb' brought in drummer Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty's band, and we also worked with bassist Reggie McBride, who has worked with everyone, including Stevie Wonder," Montoya said. "It was a great experience."

Taking those songs to a live audience is another spoke in the wheel.

"It doesn't matter if we're playing a 70,000-seat arena for a festival or a 100-seat bar," he said. "All of them hold a special thing. The main connection is that I am thankful to the powers that be that I'm there at that moment.

"I'm looking forward to the Park City show," he said. "It's an important event for an important cause."

Guitarist Coco Montoya will perform at the Summer Bloom fundraiser for the Egyptian Theatre on Tuesday, July 6, at Stein Eriksen Lodge. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $250 each or $2,550 for a table of 10. A free room will be offered with a table purchase. Tickets are available at www.parkcityshows.com .