Chris Castle

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Chris Castle
Chris Castle, black and white, Aug 2019.jpg
Background information
Birth nameChris Castle
Born (1976-01-29) January 29, 1976 (age 43)
OriginSandusky, Ohio, United States
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter Community Activist politician
Years active1994 – present

Chris Castle (born January 29, 1976) is a folk/Americana singer-songwriter, community activist and politician. Cleveland Magazine has described his songwriting as an "authentic connection to the world-weary soul of American roots music",[1] while The New London Day's Rick Koster calls Castle "a visionary songwriter"[2] and "a tunesmith of almost scary vision, narrative acumen and hooky instinct".[3] The late Tommy Ramone once described Castle by saying "Chris Castle sings his unique songs of depth and beauty with a voice well textured by life's experiences."[4]

Early life[edit]

Castle was born in Sandusky, Ohio, United States; his family moved to the village of New London, Ohio, around the time he was four. His parents had migrated to Ohio from eastern Kentucky in the late sixties, and Castle was exposed to Appalachian Music from a very early age. His father (a Vietnam War veteran) committed suicide when Castle was nine years old; a theme that would later inspire Castle's first official single and video, Both Ends of A Gun.[5]

Early career[edit]

Castle spent his teen years as a staff-writer in Nashville, Tennessee, working under such notable writers as; Casey Kelly (The Cowboy Rides Away), Wood Newton (Bobbie Sue), and Earl Bud Lee (Friends in Low Places). At twenty-one, he would leave Music Row to again perform in bars and coffeehouses in northern Ohio.[6]

Castle enrolled in Bowling Green State University as a Political Science major, where he met Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee in 2006. The veteran playwright convinced him to return to songwriting and Chris began crafting the songs that would become Hollow Bones in Monotone. "He's the one who talked me into dropping out of college, so I can blame it on (him). He was telling me about holding up a mirror to our society and holding it up to yourself. He had great stuff to say about real art."[7]

As a recording artist[edit]

Castle's 2007 release, Hollow Bones in Monotone, received solid reviews,[8] and established Castle as an accepted player in the modern folk scene. That same year, Castle was named featured artist at Folk Alley,[9] in addition to being a finalist in the Granite State Songwriting Contest, in Newmarket, New Hampshire.[10]

Since then, Castle has shared stages with artists including: Chris Hillman, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Herb Pedersen, Uncle Monk (with Tommy Ramone), David Amram, Jimmy Webb, Radney Foster, Richard Shindell, Darrell Scott, Jonathan Edwards, Junior Brown, The Wood Brothers, Amy Speace, David Wax Museum, Tommy Womack, Eilen Jewell, Will Kimbrough, The Everybodyfields, Peter Case, Jim White, Jenny Owen Youngs, and Jeff Black, among others.[11]

In January 2012, Castle released Last Bird Home through his own record label, Dirtsandwich Music Company. Dirtsandwich also served as Castle's publishing arm, and was a BMI-affiliated limited-liability corporation. The album was recorded and mixed in late summer of 2011 by Grammy-winning engineer Justin Guip at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. Contributing to the performances were The Band's Garth Hudson, Maud Hudson, Tommy Ramone of the Ramones, Larry Campbell (musician), Gabriel Butterfield (son of Blues musician Paul Butterfield) and The Womack Family Band, among others.[12] Last Bird Home marked the first chart success of Chris Castle's long career.

Dirtsandwich released an 88-page paperback of Castle's lyrics, poetry and original art in August 2012 called A Street With A Very Short Name: The Lyrics & Musings of Chris Castle.[13]

Castle returned to performing in October of 2019, releasing his first collection of new songs in nearly a decade. "Still Portrait Of A Spinning Wheel" was released on October 4 at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom and Tavern.

Dirtsandwich Music Co. and Imagine Norwalk[edit]

In late 2013, Dirtsandwich Music Co. became a brick and mortar shop, located in the historic business district of Norwalk, Ohio. The space served as a live Roots music venue, recording studio and art gallery for nearly three years before closing in late 2015. The building, constructed in 1884, once housed the Norwalk Piano Company and has been owned by the IOOF since 1919. Shortly after opening Dirtsandwich Music Company, Castle began focusing his energies on the city of Norwalk as a whole, through his Imagine Norwalk campaign.[14] Imagine Norwalk hosted several community-wide events throughout the summer of 2014 and 2015, which bolstered the local economy and garnered an exciting degree of citizen participation. The program was adopted by the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation in April 2015, and was presented the Ohio Art Education Association's "Distinguished Business/Organization for Art Education" award for north central Ohio the following October.

Community leadership[edit]

Castle was honored in October 2014 by Norwalk City Council and both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.[15] The Norwalk Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) recognized Castle and Imagine Norwalk with their 2014 "Innovation Award".[16] Chris Castle announced his candidacy for Norwalk City Council in January 2015, seeking Norwalk's fourth ward seat as a Democratic candidate.[17]

In April 2015, Castle was named Assistant Director for the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) where he focused on the Norwalk area's business attraction, retention and expansion efforts.[18]

Chris Castle was elected to Norwalk City Council on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 garnering 58% of ward four votes. He began a four-year term in January 2016.[19]

In March 2017, Castle co-sponsored legislation with at-large Councilman Kelly Beck, which would have legalized medical marijuana cultivation within the City of Norwalk, Ohio. The ordinance passed in a 4-3 vote but was quickly vetoed by Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan.[20]

In June 2017, Castle began producing and co-hosting a Norwalk-centric video podcast called "The Maple City Minute" with fellow Norwalk City Council member Samantha Ludwig Wilhelm. He resigned from his position at the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation in September 2017, to re-focus his energies on the podcast and on the wider-reaching goal of overall community development.[21] His wife, Julie Castle, announced her candidacy for Norwalk Board of Education in 2017, narrowly losing a six way race in November 2017.[22]


Title Album details Peak chart positions
Roots Music Report
Roots 66
Freeform American Roots
AMA Internet Chart
AMA Terrestrial Chart
Hollow Bones in Monotone
Songbook Volume I
  • Release date: September 9, 2009
  • Label: self-released
  • Formats: CD, music download
Of God & Man
  • Release date: June 25, 2011
  • Label: Dirtsandwich Music Company
  • Formats: CD, music download
Last Bird Home
  • Release date: January 12, 2012
  • Label: Dirtsandwich Music Company
  • Formats: CD, music download
5 7 26 26 73
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ Jim Vickers, Cleveland Magazine (Cleveland, Ohio) May, 2008
  2. ^ Rick Koster, The Day (New London, Connecticut), August 7, 2008
  3. ^ "Sinners Circle returns". The Day: News from southeastern Connecticut. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  4. ^ "Chris Castle Press Items". ReverbNation. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Dirtsandwich Music Co. in Norwalk, Oh". Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  6. ^ Mastroianni, Adam (July 31, 2007). Norwalk Reflector. Norwalk, Ohio. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Dave Richards, Erie Times-News (Erie, Pennsylvania) September 15, 2011
  8. ^ "Home". CoolCleveland. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008.
  9. ^ "Folk Music Radio". Folk Alley. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  10. ^ "ron noyes (gssongwritingcontest) on Myspace". Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  11. ^ [1] Archived April 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Need We Say More? > News > Members of The Band and The Ramones Join Chris Castle in the Studio". 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  13. ^ A Street With A Very Short Name: The Lyrics & Musings of Chris Castle: Chris Castle: 9781300111467: Books. 2012-08-22. ISBN 978-1300111467.
  14. ^ Seitz, Scott (20 August 2014). "This summer's Imagine Norwalk wraps up Friday". Norwalk Reflector.
  15. ^ Seitz, Scott (30 September 2014). "Castle to be honored for leadership, dedication". Norwalk Reflector.
  16. ^ "About NEDC - Annual Luncheon". Archived from the original on 2015-03-01. Retrieved 2015-03-15.
  17. ^ Seitz, Scott (6 February 2015). "Furey to battle Castle in the fourth ward". Norwalk Reflector.
  18. ^ Seitz, Scott (16 April 2015). "NEDC hires Chris Castle as economic development assistant". Norwalk Reflector. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  19. ^ Seitz, Scott. "Chris Castle claims fourth-ward seat". Norwalk Reflector.
  20. ^ Centers, Joe (4 April 2017). "Norwalk mayor vows to veto marijuana cultivation legislation". Norwalk Reflector.
  21. ^ Ashby, Cary (2 September 2017). "Castle seeking focus on community development". Norwalk Reflector.
  22. ^ Ashby, Cary. "School board hopefuls talk dollars and cents". Norwalk Reflector.

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