Tommy Castro and The Painkillers to headline festivalWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tommy Castro still remembers the first B.B. King album he heard: “Live in Cook County Jail.”
“I really just loved the sound of what B.B. was playing; I just couldn’t get enough of that. It was the coolest, most soulful guitar playing I had ever heard. So I would sit and listen to it, and I’d try to figure out what he’s doing,” he said.
Back then, Castro was about 14 or 15 years old, playing records in his bedroom and teaching himself to play. Fast-forward nearly three decades and the blues star is opening for the music legend.
“I’d never dreamed back then that I’d be sitting alongside B.B. King — I mean, you can’t imagine what a thrill that was, me sitting right next to B.B. and playing guitar and being on tour with him,” Castro said.
The awe and wonder was evident in his voice.
“B.B. turned out to be just the nicest man I’ve ever met in this business; he’s really kind,” Castro said.
In 2010, Castro won four Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards, including B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.
“To get the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, that’s the biggest award [the Blues Foundation] gives away, and with all the talent that’s out there and all the great artists and my friends that I know are on the scene, and I know where I am musically in the food chain; I know about where I stand as an artist. I don’t suck, but there’s such great talent out there that I didn’t really expect to win an award like that, but it was a huge honor and a nice surprise,” Castro said.
He also took home Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for “Hard Believer,” which was released in 2009.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist is working on a follow-up.
“Alligator [Records] has a release date early next year,” Castro said. “So far the title has been ‘The Devil You Know.’ It’s one of the songs on there.”
Last year the 45 single “Greedy”/“That’s All I Got” by Tommy Castro and The Painkillers was issued on green vinyl.
“I wanted to get two songs out in advance, something new with the new band and the new sound,” he said.
Castro & The Painkillers — bassist Randy McDonald, drummer David Tucker and keyboardist James Pace — will headline the NW Ohio Rhythm, Blues & Jazz Festival on July 13 at Promenade Park. The show starts at 4 p.m. Also appearing will be Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, Tinsley Ellis and Morgen Stiegler.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the event. The concert is a benefit for the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank.
Castro said he likes to come to town and visit Tony Packo’s.
“They don’t make a chili dog like that in California,” he said during a call from his San Francisco home.
“We have a little bit of history in Toledo, Randy and I; we were both Dynatones at one time. And the leader of the Dynatones was a guy named Walter Shuffelsworth, the drummer and leader of the band, who is from Toledo, Ohio. So we do have some friends in town.”