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Playing Around: Rick Berthod 

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Rick Berthod has blown back into town. The former Springs resident left almost 10 years ago for the sun-drenched shores of Southern California, in search of opportunity, tired of playing the same old classic-rock covers Colorado wanted to hear.

Berthod discovered the blues through Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band and other rock stars who were heavily influenced by the Delta sound while growing up in Rock Island, Ill. After buying a knock-off Stratocaster for $15 and an undetermined amount of a controlled substance, Berthod began playing the blues in local bands, the first composed of co-workers. He began to gravitate back to the traditional sounds of Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker, slowly abandoning the rock-infused styles of his first guitar heroes.

Looking for work, Berthod came to Colorado Springs in the '80s. While here he played in a few local bands, doing mostly R&B and covers. When blues legend Albert Collins came through town, Berthod got the chance to meet him, and the two became friends, Collins asking for Berthod's autograph.

The limiting blues scene of the Pikes Peak region began to wear on Berthod, and when opportunities to play his own music finally petered out, the musician packed up and moved to L.A. There he found clubs willing to house his intense original blues, and patrons who appreciated his newly created Persuader Band. "In the Western States ... , people come out to clubs to actually listen to music," Berthoud said in an interview with Easy Week. "Before coming West, I played a lot of places where, unfortunately, the music was incidental, and the crowd was more concerned with shooting pool and picking up dates."

The musical freedom has allowed Berthod to hone his skills, earning comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughn and his idol, the late Albert Collins. Berthoud has earned the right to play with Gregg Allman, John Mayall, Peter Wolf, Delbert McClinton and numerous others, and B.B. King even gave him one of his coveted autographed Gibson Lucille guitars, crafted after King's own. Berthod will use it to play his original blues with the Persuader Band at Tres Hombres Saturday night. Call 687-0625.

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