Castro Does Blues At His Best

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411


If you have the blues after your New Year’s celebrations, then there’s something just for you at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz this weekend. San Jose’s Tommy Castro, one of our area’s leading proponents of blues-rock, will be kicking off the year in style with shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Tommy Castro Band was formed in 1991 and has been a more-or-less permanent fixture on the United States and international blues circuit ever since. The band has toured with BB King, Robert Cray and John Lee Hooker and had an album, “Right as Rain,” voted one of the top 40 blues albums of all time by Blues Review magazine.

Guitarist and vocalist Castro claims among his influences Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding and James Brown. He claims that part of his musical
mission is to preserve their legacy while at the same time developing his own style as a writer and performer.

He is clearly succeeding, as witnessed by a review of a recent show at Newcastle Opera House in the United Kingdom: “As Castro struck up it was hard to tell whether the theatre’s heating had come on line, or that
the music had put a fire under our seats! This West Coast 47-year-old with the boyish look is a black guy in a white man’s body; in fact I felt he was a cross between Jonny Lang and Otis Redding.”

Castro has six CD releases to his credit and receives airplay on hundreds of radio stations around the world. Two of his releases, “Live at the Fillmore” and the aforementioned “Right As Rain,” spent many weeks around the top of the Billboard Blues Chart.

His latest release, “Guilty of Love,” is receiving favorable reviews and features one of the last-ever performances by John Lee Hooker, who features as a guest vocalist on the title track. The track was recorded at Hooker’s Los Altos home only weeks before his death.

“Recording with John Lee was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Castro said. “We’d been doing shows with him in recent months, and I
came to admire him as a human being as well as the genuine living legend he was.”

The Tommy Castro Band is one of the Bay Area’s hardest working blues bands. Castro and his bandmates play more than 200 shows per year and continually delight audiences with the energy and passion of their performances.

Their touring schedule shows no signs of them slowing down either – following this weekend’s Bay Area dates, they jet off for a week’s residency in Florida, then a tour of the Southern states.

Constantly described by magazine reviewers as “the real deal,” the music of Tommy Castro is blues at its best. Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana recently summed it up thus: “The blues are in good hands. Tommy has the voice, the sound and the right intentions to touch everyone’s heart.”

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, January 2, 2003

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