Tommy Castro

Nov. 29 • Southgate House

Nov 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Tommy Castro is one of those guys who's been around so long and has so many incredible affiliations it’s astonishing he’s not a household name. The San Jose, Calif., native began playing guitar at 10 and drew inspiration from every permutation of the Blues (Chicago, electric, Soul, West Coast, as well as classic ’60s Rock), citing guys like Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Mike Bloomfield and B.B. King as influences. Castro got his chops playing with Bay Area cover bands in the ’70s, leading to his membership the Retro Rock band The Dynatones in the ’80s.

In 1991, Castro set out on his own and has been padding his press kit with impressive accomplishments ever since. His achievements include a pair of Bammys (music awards given to Bay Area musicians) for Blues Album (Exception to the Rule), Blues Musician of the Year in 1997 and successive opening slots in 2001 and 2002 for B.B. King (who invited Castro to join him for the finale of each show).

Castro’s 2001 album Guilty of Love was notable for featuring the last recording session of legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker, and his 2007 album Painkiller was voted Album of the Year in a reader’s poll by noted Web mag BluesWax and took the 2008 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year. Castro also nabbed a BMA for Entertainer of the Year that year.

After three decades of playing professionally, 2009 might well stand as one of the best years of Castro’s career. He signed to Alligator Records this year and released the blistering Hard Believer, which has deservedly garnered some of the best reviews in Castro’s dozen-album catalog. Melding his incendiary guitar playing to an amalgamation of the styles he loves best (Soul, R&B, Southern Rock and every kind of Blues), he's poised to become a 30-year overnight sensation any day now.

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