Alligator Records has announced the signing of world-renowned blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Chris Cain. His label debut, Raisin’ Cain, should be released later this year or early in 2021, depending on market conditions. The album — produced and recorded by Kid Andersen at San Jose’s Greaseland Studio — will feature twelve original songs. According to Cain, “They are the best pack of tunes I’ve ever written.”
With more than three decades of worldwide touring and fourteen acclaimed previous albums, Cain has earned his reputation as both a fan favorite and a musician’s musician. Since his first release in 1987, he has created his very own blues sound inspired by his heroes – B.B. King, Albert King, Ray Charles, Albert Collins, Grant Green and Wes Montgomery. His jazz-informed blues guitar playing is fiery, emotional and always unpredictable. His vocals – gruff, lived-in and powerful – add fuel to the fire. His indelible original songs keep one foot in the blues tradition and both eyes on the future. The pure joy Cain brings to his playing and singing is palpable, and draws fans even closer in.
I had the privilege of interviewing Chris a couple years ago. He gives all the credit to his biggest influence, his dad. Cain’s father would take him to see the biggest names when they came to town. His father was a truck driver, so how did he do it? They dressed in suits and just walked in like they owned the joint.
But my dad would always take me see people, and with him being a gentleman in a suit, they just thought he was part of the band. He would just come and go as he pleased. He took me to see Albert King and Freddie King at the Fillmore. He just took me backstage and I got to meet those guys. I was 17 years old, and these guys were like buildings standing next to me. Let me tell you, when you shook Albert King’s hand, it was like sticking your hand into a bean bag chair. It was that kind of stuff that I got to be privy to, because dad would take me to do these things.
Cain was born in San Jose, California in 1955. His parents were huge music fans and shared their love of blues, jazz and popular music with Chris. His African American father and Greek mother both loved music and had a huge record collection. His father first took Chris to see B.B. King when Chris was three, and, says Cain, “we never missed another show.” Thanks to his parents’ musical passion, young Chris saw almost every blues, jazz and rock artist that came through town, many of them repeatedly — James Brown, Albert King, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, even The Beatles. He picked up his first guitar at age eight and learned lick after lick, song after song. He listened to his father’s records over and over until the music had seeped into his soul.
Cain formed his first band in 1986, and released his first album in 1987, Late Night City Blues, on the locally-based Blue Rock’It label. Almost immediately, booking agents came calling. Incredibly, he was touring Europe even before he started barnstorming the U.S. The album received four W.C Handy Award (now the Blues Music Awards) nominations and the offers to perform kept rolling in. He even opened for his heroes Albert King and Albert Collins, who both asked Chris to jam on stage. The more Cain toured and recorded, the greater his reputation grew. His releases include four albums on Blue Rock’It and three on Blind Pig Records, and his live performances number in the thousands.
Joining Alligator Records is a dream come true for Cain, who grew up idolizing label giants like Hound Dog Taylor and Son Seals. “Alligator cares so much about the music and the artists,” he says. “I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Similarly, label president Bruce Iglauer is thrilled to welcome Cain into the Alligator family. “Chris Cain is a brilliant and soulful blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter — and a terrific keyboard and sax player too. He’s won devoted fans around the world on top of being a true musician’s musician. He is spoken of with awe by his fellow bluesmen. Chris has cut fourteen terrific previous albums, but none is more exciting than Raisin’ Cain. We’re looking forward to bringing Chris’ music to a wider audience than ever before.”