Summer of 1999 was a very good season. I was teaching high school and didn’t have kids yet so I was long on time and short on obligations from June to September; I took lots of trips, saw lots of shows, and wasn’t looking forward to summer’s end. However, I was looking forward to the local Rock ‘n’ Ribs festival that was coming up on the 3rd-to-the-last weekend before school started. I don’t actually like ribs, but where there are ribs there is usually mac & cheese and where there is a rib fest there is usually live music.
At this particular rib fest on that particular evening, one of those perfect ones that was warm but not humid and illuminated by the golden glow of the setting sun, there was a name that I didn’t know and I was kinda paying more attention to the sunset than the stage, anyway. That name happened to be Tommy Castro and once Chairman of the Board made its way to my ears, I forgot all about the show that the sky was putting on because the show up on stage had my FULL attention! I thought, where has THIS been my whole life? At the time, Tommy was touring to support his Right as Rain album which—in its entirety—is all that I love about blues rock: soulful vocals, gritty guitar work (in this case, punctuated by sax), songs that you can’t help but move to, cool lyrics, exemplary musicianship and—as an added plus—a genuinely nice frontperson. In a stroke of fantastic fortune, Tommy’s tour brought him to the immediate and surrounding areas more than once a year for several years so I saw him plenty of times in plenty of places, with lineups big and small over the years and heard plenty of my favorites; Guilty of Love, Nasty Habits, Take Me Off the Road, and so many more.
Most recently, I saw Tommy at the Kent Stage, just last week, and he was FANTASTIC! He played a mix of old and new to an appreciative audience with whom he was interactive and during this tour he’s promoting his new album Tommy Castro Presents: A Bluesman Came to Town, which is not only available on vinyl but on green translucent vinyl. I bought it, of course, because I am weak for vinyl and Tommy not only signed it but made a few minutes to chitchat with me about the early days, including that rib fest at which I became a fan for life. If you have the chance to go see Tommy Castro, please do it; it will be a great show that will leave you feelin’ the blues in the best of ways.