AZTEC — He's performed with musicians like Jimi Hendrix's brother, Leon Hendrix, and Delta blues artist Blind Mississippi Morris.
And Friday, Alfredo Barranco, whose stage name is Alfie Harpo, will play a concert at Crash Music at the Aztec Theater, along with Durango, Colo., blues guitarist Kirk James and his drummer Steve Dejka.
This week, Barranco shared his musical expertise with the youth of Aztec during a week of private lessons at Crash Music. On March 7, he played an impromptu jam session with Aztec musicians for a children's concert at the theater.
"The kids here have a lot of talent — some of them through playing in school, others they just like to play. They play for the same reasons I do, I think," Barranco said. "I teach the kids, share with them the harmonica, how to get feeling in their sound. It's important to share what you love with the new generation. But it's also a lot of fun."
Barranco, 45, was born in Madrid, Spain, and grew up in Valencia, Venezuela. But he says he always knew he'd end up in the United States, the home of the music he loves.
When Barranco was 10, his grandfather gave him his first harp.
"I just grew up on American blues music — the greats, like Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson," Barranco said. "My grandfather gave me my harmonica as a boy, I took to it. It was natural to me."
Barranco said he was either in the pool as part of his school's swim team or at home playing his harmonica.
"My mother used to say that's how I got my lungs (for harmonica playing) from competitive swimming," he said. "I'm high-energy blues. I sing with my harmonica."
Barranco was so devoted to blues music that he got his parents to take him at age 15 to play in every club in Valencia that would allow the teenager to perform. He began traveling up to Miami and, later, to Memphis, Tenn., and through the South to extend his musical reach.
In 1998, Barranco traveled from Valencia to play at the Sonny Boy Williamson tribute blues summit in Williamson's birthplace, Glendora, Miss. He went on to play across the United States, touring with fellow blues musicians before putting down roots in Seattle.
But for Barranco, Aztec might be his new home-away-from-home.
"I've never been to this part of the country before," Barranco said. "But I like it here. I should start looking for a room. It's easy to fall in love with the land, the open spaces."
James, who has made a name for himself performing solo and with his band throughout the Four Corners, will perform with Barranco tonight.
"Tuesday, I met (Barranca) in person, and we played together," James said. "After a few songs, we gelled really well."
James and the drummer from the Kirk James Band, Dejka, will explore much of the traditional mid-20th century blues songbook at their show.
"It'll be pretty cool," James said. "When I play electric with (my) band, we're doing the more contemporary stuff, but Alfie and I easily agreed doing some of the older stuff, to keep it alive, would be the way to go. It's done less so why don't we do it more? It'll be very inventive, shootin' from the hip. It will be some Robert Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins, Reverend Gary Davis — go deep, you know?"