My interview with Tommy Castro was nothing short of delightful. At sixty-six years old, Castro continues to release music that challenges him both sonically and personally by expanding his discography in new and interesting ways. Castro explained how he has put out over eighteen records. To stay engaged as an active participant in his music, it is imperative for him to stay stimulated and challenged when entering the booth for another round.
"A Bluesman Came to Town" was different, for Castro, than his past works in many ways. Not only was it his first time working with Tom Hambridge, but the record was also recorded in Nashville, a change of pace from Castro's Bay Area homestead. The creative process was unique for the record since Castro highlighted it as a concept album through and through. Being Castro's first concept album, the challenge was in maintaining a single storyline that had an interesting plot; songs that kept to central thematic elements and motifs while being in the mindset of a traveling bluesman.
Despite some of the tracks on the record feeling undoubtedly personal, Castro explained how the album is primarily fiction. He found inspiration from friends, his experiences on tour, as well as the influence of infamous blues artists of today and music's past. "A Bluesman Came to Town" pays homage to those blues icons that not only live on in listener's minds, but continue to inspire creatives like Castro, some of which include BB King and Micheal Bloomfield. Castro elaborated on his creative process by listening to a guitar lick or riff that he admires, then applies that essence to his own music by putting a personal expansion or alteration on the techniques in order to continue to diversify his music and sound.
In questioning Castro on his eagerness to be on the road again, he was simply ecstatic. Connecting with fans that have been around consistently for the entirety of his career is a privilege and joy, which he had explained. Despite having to rethink the way in which he greets fans after shows in order to keep audience members safe from potential risks of COVID, Castro told how the elation comes from being able to play for an audience that is willing to listen. Some pressures and concerns could come up when embarking on the road again after nearly a year and a half of dormancy. Since this record is a departure from his typical work to a degree, there are some nerves in how fans will respond to the thematic elements and strict plotline that the album follows. However, Castro has been able to overcome the obstacles of undertaking such a dynamic and involved project and the payoff has been praise for the album by fans and critics alike.
In regards to the album content itself, the most memorable track, in my opinion, had to be 'Blues Prisoner.' This track is truly a delight to listen to and every time one listens, there are new elements to dissect and appreciate within the track. Castro explained how this song in particular falls in line with a ballad tempo and diverts from his typical style of blues by shifting from a major blues to a minor blues song. The track not only suited the sentiment of the album, but strives to personify the notes of the guitar through showcasing the part as if it were another singer telling the tale of breaking out of a stagnant blues routine.
Castro was truly a pleasure to interview and his passion and love for creating music and performing were more than obvious over the phone. Talking to an artist that takes pride in their work and is excited to share it with new and old listeners is the perfect combination to integrate the new generation of music lovers with the classic sounds and themes of blues music.
If you are eager to hear the rich and smooth voice of Tommy Castro and his newly released tracks off of the album 'A Bluesman Came to Town' be sure to attend his Tucson show on Monday, September 27, 2021, at 191 Toole Tucson AZ. Not only would you be able to hear a seasoned performer excel in his craft in a live music setting, but in addition, one will be able to diversify their music taste and enrich their appreciation for blues music at a local venue ripe for the visiting. Sounds Like:
You To Hold Onto
I Want to Go Back Home
Interviewers Name: Peyton Riegel Album Release Date: September 17, 2021