Born: 1955 in San Jose CA
For a decade and a half, blues guitarist Tommy Castro has thrilled audiences with his slash-and-burn six-string technique, bluesy songwriting, and soulful vocals. A dynamic live performer, Castro and his band of top-notch musicians have risen to the top of the blues game by winning over one fan at a time with their inspired blend of blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll.
The Tommy Castro Band
Born in the former Northern California farming enclave of San Jose, Tommy Castro picked up the guitar at the early age of ten. Initially influenced by blues-rock artists like Eric Clapton and Michael Bloomfield, their work exposed the young musician to legendary guitarists like Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Freddie King, and soul singers like Ray Charles and Wilson Pickett. A "late bloomer" by his own admission, by his late-20s Castro was performing in the San Francisco Bay area with various blues and soul bands.
In the late-1980s, Castro began playing guitar with the Warner Brothers Records band the Dynatones, with whom he spent two years on the road honing his chops. Castro formed the Tommy Castro Band in 1991, gigging around the Bay area and winning Bay Area Music Award as the "Best Club Band" in both 1993 and 1994. Castro released his live debut album, No Foolin', in 1993. "My reason for making that record," says Castro in an interview with About.com Blues, "was to have something on tape...a cassette, in those days...that we could stick in an envelope and send out to other clubs and try and get some gigs."
Exception To The Rule
The buzz created over the Tommy Castro Band's dynamic live performances brought the guitarist to the attention of noted blues and roots label Blind Pig Records, who would release Exception To The Rule in 1996. The band began touring across the country, leaving satisfied audiences behind as they went. At this time, Castro and band became the house band for the NBC late-night television series Comedy Showcase, which aired for three year after the network's Saturday Night Live. Blind Pig followed up on Castro's label debut with Can't Keep A Good Man Down in 1997 and Right As Rain in 1999.
Blind Pig released Live At The Fillmore in 2000 on CD and DVD, documenting Castro's electric live performances. In 2001 and 2002, B.B. King requested that the Tommy Castro Band open his summer tours, and Castro also toured steadily with his band as headliners. Leaving Blind Pig after Live At The Fillmore, Castro recorded a number of well-received albums for labels like Telarc and 33rd Street, which released his Guilty of Love album in 2001. Notable for including the last performance of blues legend John Lee Hooker, the success of Guilty of Love would propel the Tommy Castro Band to new heights of popularity.
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue
Castro would return to Blind Pig for 2005's Soul Shaker and his ground-breaking 2007 release Painkiller. The latter album would earn the Tommy Castro Band a 2008 Blues Music Award for "Contemporary Blues Album of the Year" and Castro himself would be honored by The Blues Foundation with the "B.B. King Entertainer of the Year" award. Not content to rest on his laurels, Castro would follow up on his successes with the critically-acclaimed 2009 album Hard Believer.
Inspired by his jams with other musicians during frequent appearances on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Castro and his band decided to keep the party going in 2007 and take it on the road. Joined by fellow "blues cruisers" Magic Dick, Deanna Bogart, and Ronnie Baker Brooks, the all-star ensemble called themselves the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, blowing audiences away during a 30-day tour which resulted in the live album Command Performance. The Tommy Castro Band continues to headline the twice-yearly cruise, as well as drawing audiences to their frequent festival appearances.
Recommended Albums: Castro's Live At The Fillmore offers up an acceptable approximation of the guitarist's live shows, while the award-winning Painkiller and the acclaimed Hard Believer both deliver Castro's high-octane blend of blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll.
Tommy Castro Band - Discography
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- No Foolin' (Saloon Records, 1993)
- Exception To The Rule (Blind Pig Records, 1996)
- Can't Keep A Good Man Down (Blind Pig Records, 1997)
- Right As Rain (Blind Pig Records, 1999)
- Live At The Fillmore (Blind Pig Records, 2000)
- The Essential Tommy Castro (Blind Pig Records, 2001)
- Guilty Of Love (33rd Street Records, 2001)
- Gratitude (Heart and Soul Records, 2003)
- Triple Trouble* (Telarc Records, 2000)
- Soul Shaker (Blind Pig Records, 2005)
- Painkiller (Blind Pig Records, 2007)
- Command Performance** (Delta Groove Records, 2008)
- Hard Believer (Alligator Records, 2009)
* with Jimmy Hall and Lloyd Jones, backed by Double Trouble
** with the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue