Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
Curtis Stigers to Perform ‘Songs from My Kitchen’ In Person
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Curtis Stigers has co-written songs with such legends as Carole King, garnering an Emmy nomination for co-writing and singing the theme song to the TV series “Sons of Anarchy.” COURTESY: Curtis Stigers
   
Sunday, July 18, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Jazz/pop/blues artist Curtis Stigers’ tours took him far afield to places like England and Denmark before the pandemic.

So, you can imagine what it’s been like staying at home in Boise for more than a year.

Determined to exercise his creative bent, he began livestreaming weekly shows from his kitchen with four of his best friends—Hanks, Louie, Stanley and Boo. That would be his four dogs—a Bernedoodle, Portuguese water dog, Yorkie and Markiesje.

“We showed some videos, sang songs. I always wanted to be a Dick Cavett or Johnny Carson and this was my chance,” said Stigers. “It was a long, long time of sitting here so I had to come up with things to do.”

Stigers finally got the opportunity to play for a live audience this past week, playing in Vail and Aspen  before taking to the stage in Boise. The 55-year-old performer will perform at The Argyros in Ketchum at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 23. Tickets start at $20, available at https://theargyros.org

Stigers, who usually plays with his jazz quartet, has titled the show, “Songs from My Kitchen Live.” He will play acoustic guitar and sax, sing songs from the many albums he’s recorded over his 30-year career and tell stories about his life—and his dogs. He may even bring one of his dogs—Hank, the mellow one.

“I’m doing something I’ve never done, creating a story out of my songs,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever created a multi-media experience. This is a concert with extra stuff.”

Stigers’ last album, “Gentleman,” which he recorded with celebrated jazz artist Larry Goldings, was released just as the pandemic began shutting things down in late March of 2020.

“We spent a year working on it so it was difficult to accept we couldn’t go out and play the songs for people,” Stigers said.

In an effort to promote the album, Stigers learned how to shoot and edit videos using iMovie. He filmed Goldings, who was in Los Angeles, from a distance. Then he filmed himself and edited himself and his producer into what he calls “quarantine duets.”

“It was the longest stretch I’ve ever been at home. But I felt very lucky to be in Boise because I’ve got a house and big yard,” he recounted. “Even then, I was really careful, staying home a lot. But I can’t imagine being stuck in a one-bedroom apartment in New York. Many friends struggled with that.”

Stigers said it’s been equally heartbreaking watching friends overseas come out of lockdown, only to be put back in.

“It’s been brutal for them. I spend a lot of time on Twitter with my fans and friends and it’s been awful for them,” he said. “I’m nervous for them even now when the government has suddenly decided to remove all the safeguards, like masks. You have to do it in a sensible careful way. The Wood River Valley, on the other hand, has been impressive with the way they’ve approached this. Such a very high vaccination rate.”

 Boise has been home for Stigers throughout much of his life.

Born in Hollywood, he and his family moved to Boise when he was in third grade. He learned to play clarinet at Koelsch Elementary and saxophone in Fairmont Junior High. He was drum major at Capitol High School, during which time he also played drums in a new-wave punk rock band

He picked up pointers from Gene Harris at the jazz pianist’s Tuesday night jam sessions at The Idanha Hotel. And he teamed up with Paul Tillotson—a longtime jazz favorite in Sun Valley--to form a band called the Young Jazz Lions

Stigers left Boise for New York in 1987, playing $50 gigs in smoky nightclubs until he got a record deal and a hit song, “I Wonder Why,” six years later in 1991. He quickly found himself on The Tonight Show and opening for Eric Clapton, Elton John and Bonnie Raitt at Wembley Stadium in London.

But he returned to Boise in 2003 to raise his then 3-year-old daughter Ruby, who ironically now lives in New York.

Home for the past year, he wrote some new songs and learned some new songs. And he honed his fingerwork on the guitar. He also had the opportunity to do a lot of reflecting.

“I learned to appreciate things more than I used to. I read an article by Rosalyn Cash, who said she misses the things she used to despise, things she used to dread--like walking into a hotel room and closing the door behind her. You get so used to things you don’t realize how much a part of life they are. I know I’ve missed traveling with my band—they’re my buddies.”

Stigers also came to the realization that he doesn’t have to do just jazz records.

“I’m a pop singer, maybe a soul singer. I have my own style and that’s what counts. As I get older, I realize it doesn’t matter where the music come from as long it sounds like me.”

Stigers will release a new album in February 2022--thirty years after his first album. It will feature some of his hit songs from the 1990s along with elements of singer-songwriter music, jazz, blues and soul.

This will be the first time Stigers has played in the Sun Valley area since he played as a kid with Sun Valley pianist Alan Pennay at Elkhorn’s Jazz on the Green and with the late Paul Tillotson.

“And now to think you have a really exciting new theater…”

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