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“He can do no wrong…soulful, heartfelt vocals and exquisite, stellar guitar. An inspired blend of blues, R&B, soul and roadhouse rock” –Blues Revue
Ever since he first picked up a guitar, Tommy Castro believed. He believed he would not only be able to make a living playing music, but could develop his own signature sound, fusing blues with R&B and roots rock ‘n’ roll. And he has done just that. Castro began his career playing in local Bay Area cover bands prior to joining the nationally touring R&B party band, The Dynatones. Since forming his own band and relentlessly touring the world, he has become one of the blues’ top drawing artists and best-loved performers, known worldwide for his impassioned vocals, forceful guitar work, striking songwriting and galvanizing live show. Castro’s contagious, boyish energy and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with his fans – who often travel great distances to watch him play — have made him and his horn-fueled band among the blues world’s busiest, most popular acts.
Publications across the country, from The Washington Post to The San Francisco Examiner, have sung Castro’s praises. Guitar Player called Castro “the hardest working bluesman on the scene today.” The Philadelphia Inquirer declared, “Castro plays infectious, roaring roadhouse romps with incendiary licks and a touch of New Orleans soul.” According to The San Francisco Chronicle, “Castro navigates seriously funky Southern soul, gritty big city blues and scorching rock…his silvery guitar licks simultaneously sound familiar and fresh.” Carlos Santana, with whom Castro has performed, said, “Tommy Castro has the voice and the sound to touch everybody’s heart.”
Castro, among the hardest working musicians in any genre, won the coveted 2008 and 2010 Blues Music Awards for Entertainer Of The Year. With his 2009 Alligator Records debut Hard Believer, he took another major step forward in a career of non-stop highlights. Radio and press fully embraced Hard Believer, as the CD earned the #1 spot on the Living Blues Radio Chart for two straight months. The CD was #1 on the Roots Music Report Blues Chart, and it even crossed over to rock radio where it was the # 2 Most Added Record at the Adult Album Alternative (AAA) format the week the album was released. Sirius/XM Bluesville launched Hard Believer nationwide with a very special 2-hour interview. Tommy was also featured nationally on The House Of Blues Radio Hour and Blues Deluxe.
Reviews and features ran in The Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, The Boston Herald and many other national, international and regional publications. Blurt said, “Hard Believer showcases Castro’s soulful voice, searing guitar and excellent songwriting ability as it reaches new heights.” The album won the 2010 Blues Music Award (BMA) for Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year. In addition to the Entertainer Of The Year Award, Castro won the BMA for Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year and Band Of The Year. Hard Believer also won The Living Blues Readers Award for Best Blues Album Of The Year. All of this attention helped land Castro on the cover of the January 2011 issue of Blues Revue, who called Castro “the most dangerous man in the blues.”
Hard Believer, produced by John Porter (B.B. King, Elvis Costello, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, The Smiths, Otis Rush, Billy Bragg, Roxy Music), was recorded in Castro’s hometown of San Rafael, California. The album is anchored by Castro’s soul-baring songs and feral guitar attack. It is filled with profound emotion and fueled by Castro’s soulful vocals and propulsive rhythms. But what really drives the songs home is Castro’s telepathic interaction with his band, sometimes inspiring them to push the pedal to the floor, and other times slowing things down for a simmering ballad. The album perfectly captures the magic of Castro’s power as a vocalist, guitarist and bandleader.
When not touring on his own, Tommy leads The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, an all-star blues caravan conceived by Castro as a way to bring the all-night jams aboard The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises (where Castro has become the “honorary captain”) to concert stages and clubs around the country. The ever-changing line-up — featuring Tommy and his band with special guests from all over the blues map — is among the most crowd-pleasing concert experiences around. In 2011 Alligator released Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue – Live!, a white-hot collection of the highest highlights from the Revue’s recent live performances. In addition to Castro’s stellar fretwork and blue-eyed soul vocals, the album features Alligator Records label-mates Rick Estrin, Janiva Magness and Michael “Iron Man” Burks, along with Debbie Davies, Theodis Ealey, Sista Monica Parker, Joe Louis Walker and the 2008 International Blues Challenge Award winners Trampled Under Foot. The Washington Post called the CD “inspired and phenomenal, horn-fueled and funky.”
TOMMY CASTRO BIOGRAPHY
Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Castro first picked up a guitar at age 10. He came under the spell of Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield and other blues-rock players. As he got older, Castro moved forward by investigating the past, falling in love with the blues guitar work of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James and soul singers like Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. By his late 20s he was playing in a variety of San Francisco-area blues and soul bands.
Castro joined Warner Brothers’ artists The Dynatones in the late 1980s. The celebrated rocking soul band had a huge fan base and toured the U.S. constantly. He honed his chops with The Dynatones on the road for two years, performing live all across the country and backing major artists like Carla Thomas and Albert King. He formed the first incarnation of The Tommy Castro Band in 1991, achieving local popularity and winning the Bay Area Music Award for Best Club Band in both 1993 and 1994. With his local fan base quickly expanding, he released Exception To The Rule on Blind Pig. He began touring nationally with his band, picking up new fans everywhere he went. The album won the 1997 Bay Area Music Award for Outstanding Blues Album, and Castro also took the award for Outstanding Blues Musician that same year.
In the mid-1990s The Tommy Castro Band served as the house band for three seasons on NBC Television’s Comedy Showcase (airing right after Saturday Night Live), bringing him in front of millions of viewers every week. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Castro released a series of critically acclaimed CDs for Blind Pig, Telarc and 33rd Street Records as well as one on his own Heart And Soul label. In 2001 and 2002 the legendary B.B. King asked Castro to open his summer concert tours. Castro received an open invitation to join the King Of The Blues on stage for the nightly finale. For the last 15 years, Castro has rarely been off the road, playing over 150 shows a year, each one a spontaneous and exhilarating testament to the power of live music.
Connecting with his audience and sharing his enthusiasm with his fans is something Castro does naturally and effortlessly. With his horn-fueled, blues-rocking, road-tested band behind him, Castro never fails to sweep his audience out of their seats and onto the dance floor. His ability to ignite a raucous good-time party – along with the recent CDs Hard Believer and Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue – Live! – assure that Tommy Castro and his band are in constant demand. Listening to Castro’s recordings and seeing him live, believing is not only easy, it’s a whole lot of fun.