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April 15, 1955|
San Jose, California, United States
|Genres||Blues, soul, Southern rock, Chicago blues, rock and roll, soul-blues|
|Labels||Alligator, Blind Pig, Telarc, 33rd Street, Delta Groove, Heart And Soul, Saloon|
|Associated acts||Dixie Chicks|
Tommy Castro (born April 15, 1955, San Jose, California, United States) is an American blues, R&B and rock guitarist and singer. He has been recording since the mid-1990s. His music has taken him from local stages to national and international touring. His popularity was marked by his winning the 2008 Blues Music Award for Entertainer of the Year. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Castro plays "Memphis soul-drenched R&B…top-of-the-line blues." Blurt[who?] added, "Castro has a soulful voice, searing guitar and is an excellent songwriter and vocalist. If you close your eyes you will be convinced that you are listening to Otis Redding singing in 1967…tremendous."
Castro began playing guitar at the age of 10 and was influenced and inspired by electric blues, Chicago blues, West Coast blues, soul music, 1960s rock and roll and Southern rock. His style has always been a hybrid of all his favorite genres. He names Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James and Freddie King as guitar influences and Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown as vocal influences.
He began playing professionally in Bay Area cover-song bands in the 1970s. In the 1980s he joined the Warner Bros. Records' band The Dynatones. Since 1991, he has led his own bands, featuring a drummer, bass guitar player and saxophone player (Keith Crossan has held the saxophone position for many years). As of 2009, he had added trumpeter Tom Poole and keyboards to the band. He was signed to Blind Pig Records label and released Exception to the Rule in late 1996. It 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.
In 2001 and 2002, B.B. King asked Castro to open his summer concert tours. Castro received an open invitation to join King on stage for the nightly finale.
Castro has released albums on the Telarc, 33rd Street and Heart And Soul and most recently on the Alligator label, as well as on Blind Pig. His album Guilty of Love featured the last recording session for John Lee Hooker. In 2002 he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song "I Can Tell". In 2007 the readers of BluesWax (online magazine) voted Painkiller as BluesWax album of the year. It also won the 2008 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.
In 2009, Castro joined the roster of Chicago's Alligator Records with his release Hard Believer, produced by John Porter. The album was described by Billboard as "irresistibly funky…it has a street-level grit and a soulful sincerity that's impossible to ignore." Blues Revue said Hard Believer is "a fine set of roadhouse-rockin' blues.". Blurt says, "Hard Believer might just be the best yet from this veteran Bay Area blues artist."
In May 2010, The Blues Foundation awarded Castro multiple Blues Music Award honors for Blues Male Artist of the Year, Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, and with his band, Band of the Year.
In 2011, Castro stripped down his band to a four-piece unit called the Painkillers, including keyboards, bass and drums as well as his own guitar and vocals. 2013's The Devil You Know, was recorded with this line-up plus guest appearances by Marcia Ball, Tab Benoit, Joe Bonamassa, The Holmes Brothers and Magic Dick. The album was reviewed by Allmusic.com, saying "Castro brings fiery garage energy to everything. His guitar playing is fired up and roaring with a renewed sharpness that keeps the pot boiling. His voice is a soulful and versatile blue-collar growl. This album is full of the blues, but it's also like a full-charged blue-eyed R&B and soul review, making this one of Castro's finest releases."
- 2017: Stompin' Ground (Alligator)
- 2016: The Very Best of Tommy Castro (Blind Pig)
- 2015: Method To My Madness (Alligator)
- 2014: The Devil You Know (Alligator)
- 2013: Greedy/That's All I Got (7" single) (Alligator)
- 2011: Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue! (Alligator)
- 2009: Hard Believer (Alligator)
- 2008: Command Performance: Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue (Delta Groove)
- 2007: Painkiller (Blind Pig)
- 2005: Soul Shaker (Blind Pig)
- 2003: The Essential (Janblues)
- 2003: Gratitude (Heart And Soul) – now on Oarfin
- 2003: Triple Trouble (Telarc)
- 2001: Guilty of Love (33rd Street)
- 2001: Mystic Theater Live promotional EP (33rd Street)
- 2000: Live at the Fillmore (Blind Pig)
- 1998: Right as Rain (Blind Pig)
- 1997: Can't Keep a Good Man Down (Blind Pig)
- 1995: Exception to the Rule (Blind Pig)
- 1994: No Foolin (Saloon)
- Johnson, Jeff. The Chicago Sun Times, August 9, 2009
- Callahan, Tom. Blurt Online, Review of Hard Believer Archived November 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., August 17, 2009
- Mills, Fred. Billboard, Review of Hard Believer, August 11, 2009
- Nager, Larry. Blues Revue, October 2009
- Lipkin, Marc. "Tommy Castro and the Painkillers' The Devil You Know Set For January 21, 2014 Release". Alligator Records. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
- Leggett, Steve. "Tommy Castro & The Painkillers CD Review The Devil You Know". All Music. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
- "Blues Music: Top Blues Albums Chart". Billboard. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2015-11-03.