8th Annual Santa Cruz Blues Festival Program
by Joseph Jordan
The Santa Cruz Blues Festival is happy to welcome back for the third time, the Tommy Castro Band, one of our most popular and musically important acts.
Tommy Castro is now fully entrenched as one of the brightest young stars on the blues scene, and has emerged as a household name among blues-lovers literally around the world. This supremely talented, gifted guitarist and deeply soulful vocalist combines a rock and roll delivery with a touch of Memphis soul. Add his riveting and remarkable stage presence to the musical mix, and he's a total money’s-worth entertainment package.
Bay Area fans have known about him for years, and now the world is finding out about this explosive young and enthusiastic blues/soul guitar star. Along with long-time band members, the sly bass-player Randy McDonald and honking Saxophonist Keith Crossan, they’ve been revitalized by relative new-comer, the hard-hitting drummer Billy Lee Lewis.
Blind Pig Records has just released this San Francisco-based artist’s a superlative recording, “Tommy Castro - Live At The Fillmore" on enhanced-CD. The electrifying concert was taped and is available as well on VHS and DVD. Tommy was lucky to engage the services of Robert Cray’s keyboard master, (and Tommy’s former producer,) Jimmy Pugh that evening, filling out his already robust four-piece to a rockin’ quintet.
Funny what a few years (and a backbreaking touring schedule,) will do for you. Not that long ago, Tommy was in local San Francisco bands such as Johnny Nitro and the Door Slammers and The Dynatones. Always called by his own musical voice though, the San Jose-born Castro had music in him that had to come out.., however he had to form his own band to do it.
Put together in 1991, the Tommy Castro Band has become one of the hardest-working and most-talked-about groups in the country. The 1997 Bay Area Music Awards recognized Tommy with an award as the Bay Area's "Outstanding Blues Musician," and for "Outstanding Blues Album" for his first Blind Pig release "Exception to the Rule." Through their hard-work, and constant crowd-pleasing performances, Tommy and his band have been acknowledged as one of the best groups the musically rich and culturally diverse Bay Area, and now the country has to offer.
Respected Blues Revue magazine has stated uncategorically that Tommy is "a gifted lead guitarist firmly in touch with his lyrical voice, Castro writes an alluring blend of straight ahead blues and Memphis-style soul. While he has his own definable sound, Castro calls to mind great blues-rock players such as Billy Gibbons of Z.Z.Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan and even Duane Allman."
Recently, the Billboard Top-Ten Blues Chart-bustin’ Castro is getting a well-deserved break by being invited to join B.B. King as a featured act on B’s annual traveling, summer Blues Festival. Tommy also had the good fortune to have just been added to the prestigious Rosebud Agency for exclusive bookings, promising a much wider audience for this dedicated blues and soul man.
Blues Revue readers recently chose Castro’s last release, “Right As Rain” as their 28th pick of “All-Time Favorite Albums.” High praise indeed.
Internet fans can check out Tommy on Alligator Records and Tommy’s own website.
With great pleasure, the Santa Cruz Blues Festival presents an established international blues star, (and helluva nice-guy & player,) Tommy Castro.