Killin' It Live
Published May 2019
Blues Music Magazine
Singer, songwriter and searing guitarist Tommy Castro bursts through on “Killin’ It Live” with voracious blues energy and ultimate soul power.
This third live release from Castro, all recorded in 2018, (the other live CDs being 1994’s No Foolin’ & 2000’s Live at the Fillmore,) is a corker and readily displays the slinger as one of the still brightest stars in the blues-soul genre. There’s little audience patter on Killin’ It, just incendiary blues-based dynamics, dripping with Tommy Castro’s sweet California-soul.
The CD was impeccably recorded live in a variety of venues from Pawling, New York to San Francisco, California. Co-produced & mixed by the six-time Blues Music Award winning Castro and Bay Area-based musician/engineer Ron Alan Cohen, this hard-charging, soul and blues drenched effort is a throat-grabber and a worthy, spirited addition to his impressive fifteen-plus studio & compilation albums.
Throughout the LP, Castro’s pure inventiveness in his guitar solos along with his always impassioned vocals make this album one in which you’ll be hard pressed to stop listening to for a long while. His adoring audiences will agree.
Castro had a hand in writing six of the eight tunes, displaying an acute affinity for rockin’-blues craftsmanship. His voice has a pleasing rasp, which accompanies his stellar lead-guitar work with dynamic intensity.
Roaring through this 10-song aural bonanza, the oft crowd-walking, boss-talking Castro’s tough, raunchy and stinging song selection has his passionate fans cheering throughout. Tommy’s excellent cohorts, the powerful Painkillers, include longtime members Mike Emerson on keyboards, Bowen Brown on drums and Randy McDonald on bass & background vocals.
The Sleepy John Estes composition, “Leaving Trunk” receives Castro’s full-blown attack that sets the classic on its ear, and a “low-down funky blues,” that Castro and Joe Louis Walker composed “Lose Lose” features Tommy at his best, inhabiting the song with a depth of vocal emotion and absolutely stellar guitar solos.
Castro and McDonald’s “Calling San Francisco” is a dance-floor lover’s delight, a 12-bar that doesn’t let go of its groove until sublime exhaustion sets in. Roaring with blissful aggression, the hard beating, pure rock and rolling “Shakin’ The Hard Times Loose” just blisters throughout with its hardy propulsion and thrusting drive. “Anytime Soon” showcases Castro at his most soulful in a melancholy tale that could have come out of the R&B lexicon of the 50s.
Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes” closes the album and is a faithful and funky revelation by way of Castro’s gifted playing and near-stunning vocals. It’s a perfect audience-pleasing choice, with excellent individual solos by the band.
Haven’t seen Tommy Castro and The Painkillers live yet? Pick up this stellar release and hear what the sublime fuss is all about.