San Francisco's Tommy Castro has earned a reputation for his brand of energetic urban Blues and his latest album, Right As Rain (Blind Pig Records) should further that rep. Castro's handling of a Stratocaster is lightninglike and slick as an oil spill and, songwise, he isn't afraid to pour a little Rock and Soul influences into his Blues. Castro brings up an interesting turn of events in more contemporary Blues: can the Blues still be effective if the songs aren't, well, blue. Songs like "Lucky in Love" and "Like An Angel" are all but devoid of the down in the dumps "charms" people once expected from their Blues. But hearing someone sing about their worries is often comforting, which, in turn, makes you feel better, so Castro and his peers are just cutting out the middleman. Even if Castro's version of the Blues is a little too glossy at times, there's still no denying his abilities as a top technician.
At Jefferson Hall on Sunday.
—M . B .