Images: Florida bluesman Albert Castiglia in the West

Tahoe Onstage
Albert Castiglia is floanked by drummer Brian Menendez and bassist Jimmy Pritchard during the July 24 Bluesdays show at Squaw Valley.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Guitar heads are being treated this month by a rare West Coast tour by Albert Castiglia,

“The call me a ‘slinger,’ ” the 48-year-old artist from Florida said. “There’s an edge to what I do. I’m along the rock-blues vein.”

He is carrying a Les Paul Gibson and a swamp ash Delaney Jagata on the tour.

Castiglia’s only previous West Coast run was in 2013, when he performed at The Village at Squaw Valley for Bluesdays. He returned to the famed ski resort on Tuesday. Celebrating its 10th year, Bluesdays is bringing a lot of guitar stars for the first time this summer, including Debbie Davies, Nick Schnebelen and Cedric Burnside.

“Like most middle class kids who play guitar, I followed rock and roll in the beginning,” Castiglia told Tahoe Onstage. “My aunts and uncles, they were listening to Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad, Santana, Bob Dylan. I got into the blues with Eric Clapton’s live album, ‘Just One Night.’ It had a lot of blues standards. I was intrigued by the stuff. Then I bought a John Mayall record, then a B.B. King. Then it was Muddy Waters’ ‘Hard Again.’ That’s the record that changed my life and when I knew I wanted to be a blues musician.”

After college, Castiglia was a blues musician, but only part time. His day job was being a government welfare worker. At the age of 27, he offered to play with the legendary harmonica player Junior Wells. Three days later, Castiglia quit his job and he moved to Chicago, where he lived for four years.

Sadly, Wells became sick and died less than a year later. The group resumed playing as The Hoodoo Man’s Band. They later backed Atlanta’s Sandra Hall, the “Empress of the Blues.”

Castiglia went solo in 2002 and has released eight albums. His 2016 record, “Big Dog,” received two Blues Music Award nominations.

Castilia’s tour includes the Bay Area’s famed blues bars Biscuits & Blues and Moe’s Alley, the Mount Baker Rhythm & Blues Festival in Bellingham, Washington (where he will go onstage after Sonny Landreth, a daunting task for anyone) and a two-day drive from Colorado to New Hampshire.

“I finally have an agency with a lot of juice,” Castiglia said. “The road is never easy but it’s a lot of fun to play in new places and we’re doing a lot of that on this run.”

Castiglia is on the rise. You see his name listed higher each year at blues festivals. He is becoming well known to blues fans.

“It feels like it,” Castiglia said. “The number of shows has increased and my profile has, too, and I’m really at a good place in my life in my career right now.”

— Tim Parsons

Tahoe Onstage
Albert Castiglia displays guitar muscle with a Les Paul Gibson at Bluesdays.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Jimmy Pritchard on a Squier bass at Bluesdays.
Taim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Brian Menendez works the sticks up in the mountains.
Tahoe Onstage
Albert Castiglia breaks a string, keeps smiling.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Bluesdays
The Village at Squaw Valley
6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
July 24: Albert Castiglia
July 31: Joe Louis Walker
Aug. 7: Kenny Neal
Aug. 14: Chris Cain
Aug. 21: Terry Hanck
Aug. 28: Coco Montoya
Sept. 4: Cedric Burnside Project

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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