Blues from the Top profiles: Chris Cain, the ‘best guitarist you’ve never heard of’ |

Blues from the Top profiles: Chris Cain, the ‘best guitarist you’ve never heard of’

Elizabeth Schubert
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Courtesy photo
Staff Photo |

Just mention Chris Cain’s name, and musicians in the blues world start buzzing.

“Hands down my favorite blues player on the scene today,” said blues rock singer and songwriter Joe Bonamassa. “The best guitarist you never heard of.”

Chicago blues guitarist Kate Moss agrees.

“Chris Cain is one the most dynamic artists I’ve ever seen live. His energy and attack are second to none, and on top of that his vocals are amazing.”

Cain has been singing the blues since childhood. His father grew up in Memphis, Tenn., on historic Beale Street and loved to share the music with his son.

Cain started attending concerts in his hometown of San Jose, Calif., when he was just 3 years old.

“We never missed a show,” Cain said. “B.B. King and Ray Charles, all of the greats. I saw them all. I wouldn’t be playing if it weren’t for B.B. King. I saw him do amazing things.”

His father, a truck driver who played guitar in his spare time, was a daily inspiration. It wasn’t long before young Cain began making music of his own.

“It was the first thing I ever played,” he said. “I picked up the guitar about the same time I learned to tie my shoes.”

Cain started performing at age 15, playing local clubs, festivals and private events. He studied at San Jose City College, eventually teaching jazz improvisation classes on campus.

His first album, “Late Night City Blues,” was released in 1987, and quickly rose to the top of the charts, earning him four W.C. Handy Blues Award nominations, including “Guitarist of the Year.”

Cain is modest about his abilities, calling music “his best pal.”

“I just try to play the blues the way I feel it, “ he said. “I’m always thrilled if they listen and like it and maybe think about it after they leave.”

Cain’s talent isn’t limited to the guitar. Over the past two decades, he has studied — and mastered — several other instruments, including the piano, clarinet and saxophone.

His performances continue to inspire audiences around the world.

“Every song gives me chills,” Moss said.

Cain takes the Blues From the Top stage on Saturday, June 27. For more information, head to

This is third in a series of articles profiling performers at this year’s Blues from the Top in Winter Park June 26-28.

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