Tommy Castro goes back to roots for ‘Stompin’ Ground’

Contrary to the Thomas Wolfe novel, you can go home again. Just ask Tommy Castro.

The prolific recording artist returned to his hometown San Jose to record his 15th album since 1994, “Stompin’ Ground,” which was released Friday, Sept. 29.

“I’ve been reconnecting with the music that I was listening to when I really started getting into playing myself,” Castro said. “That’s when I was coming of age, hanging out and jamming with friends and figuring things out.

Photo By Kurt E. Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

“Stompin’ Ground” is Tommy Castro’s fifth album with Alligator Records.

“There’s a song on there called “My Old Neighborhood” where I reminisce about what it was like at that time for me as a kid growing up. And we did some covers on this record of some of the artists that influenced me back then.”

Castro said he covered “Further On Down The Road” by Taj Mahal and “Rock Bottom” by the Elvin Bishop Band. Jo Baker sang lead vocals on the 1972 Bishop tune.

When Castro saw Bishop live, he said to himself, “That’s what I want to do.”

“That’s the band probably the most influential band to me and that’s why it’s part of the reason I sound the way I do,” Castro said. “Elvin and I have different styles but one of the things that he did that I always thought was the greatest sound ever is that he combines blues, R&B and soul music.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anybody do that and it just seems so natural and fun. Going to an Elvin Bishop show was the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Castro’s affection for soul no doubt is why his band has had a horn section for most of his career. However, the previous two Tommy Castro and the Painkillers albums do not include horns. For its live shows, the band now only uses horns for its Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue and performances on the blues cruise.

Castro said he has brought back horns on some of the songs on “Stomping Ground.”

“I’m not against horns,” he said. “It’s just as a regular diet I’m off of the big band with horns.”

“Stomping Ground” was recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studio in San Jose. Guest artists include Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica, vocals), Mike Zito (guitar, vocals), Danielle Nicole (vocals) and David Hidalgo (guitar, vocals).  It was released on Alligator Records, his fifth since joining the Chicago label in 2009.

For accolades, Castro’s greatest year was 2010 when he won Blues Music Awards 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. His last album, “Method to My Madness,” received a BMA nomination in 2015.

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“Stompin’ Ground” was released Sept. 29.

“This is going to be a tough year for me to put a record out because everybody – everybody — put a record out this year,” he said. “It’s going to be tough to stand out this year.

“Coco Montoya’s new record (‘Hard Truth’) is just stellar. He’s got a new one on Alligator and it just kicks ass. It really sounds like classic Coco. It’s the thing about Coca Montoya that everybody always likes: His playing and singing, his style of music. It’s really a good record.”

Chicago’s Ronnie Baker Brooks recently released “Times Have Changed” on the Mascot Label Group.

“Ronnie’s awesome and he spent he spent quite a lot of time working on his latest release,” Castro said. “It’s got some pretty cool special guests on there and Bobby Bland is probably one of his final performances of his life singing on Ronnie’s record and it’s a real cool, very creative effort on Ronnie’s part.”

-Tim Parsons

  • Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
    Stompin’ Ground Tour

    Sep 29, 2017 Famous Dave’s Uptown, Minneapolis, MN
    Sep 30, 2017 Knuckleheads Saloon, Kansas City, MO
    Oct 01, 2017 7 Oaks Blues Festival, Omaha, NE (at 7 Oaks Investments)
    Oct 02, 2017 The Zoo Bar, Lincoln, NE
    Oct 04, 2017 Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI
    Oct 05, 2017 The Castle Theatre, Bloomington, IL
    Oct 06, 2017 FitzGerald’s, Berwyn, IL
    Oct 07, 2017 Park Theatre, Holland, MI
    Oct 08, 2017 Callahan’s Music Hall, Auburn Hills, MI
    Oct 09, 2017 The Kent Stage, Kent, OH
    Oct 10, 2017 B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY
    Oct 11, 2017 The Upper Room, Albany, NY
    Oct 12, 2017 Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA
    Oct 13, 2017 The Barns at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
    Oct 14, 2017 The Southern Café & Music Hall, Charlottesville, VA
    Oct 15, 2017 The Tin Pan, Richmond, VA
    Oct 17, 2017 Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte, NC
    Oct 18, 2017 The Blue Note Grill, Durham, NC
    Oct 19, 2017 Eddie’s Attic, Decatur, GA
    Oct 20, 2017 Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, FL with Samantha Fish
    Oct 21, 2017 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Fort Lauderdale, FL 10/21/17-10/28/17
    Oct 28, 2017 The Funky Biscuit, Boca Raton, FL
    Oct 29, 2017 OM Bar & Chill Lounge, New Smyrna Beach, FL
    Nov 01, 2017 Dosey Doe, The Woodlands, TX
    Nov 03, 2017 Stargazers Theatre, Colorado Springs, CO
    Nov 04, 2017 The Oriental Theater, Denver, CO
    Nov 06, 2017 The State Room, Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov 15, 2017 Spirit of 66, Verviers, BELGIUM
    Nov 16, 2017 Gebr. de Nobel, Leiden, NETHERLANDS
    Nov 17, 2017 Mezz, Breda, NETHERLANDS
    Nov 18, 2017 Roepaen, Ottersum, NETHERLANDS
    Nov 20, 2017 Kofferfabrik, Fuerth, GERMANY
    Nov 21, 2017 Old Slaughterhouse, Soest, GERMANY
    Nov 22, 2017 Meisenfrei Blues Club, Bremen, GERMANY
    Nov 23, 2017 Musik & Frieden, Berlin, GERMANY
    Nov 24, 2017 Yard Club Cologne, GERMANY
    Nov 25, 2017 Blue Notez Club, Dortmund, GERMANY
    Nov 27, 2017 New Morning, Paris, FRANCE
    Dec 08, 2017 Freight & Salvage, Coffeehouse Berkeley, CA
    Dec 31, 2017 Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, CA
    Jan 11, 2018 The Rose, Pasadena, CA
    Jan 12, 2018 The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA
    Jan 13, 2018 Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, CA
    Jan 14, 2018 The Canyon, Agoura Hills , CA
    Jan 16, 2018 The Rhythm Room, Phoenix, AZ
    Jan 17, 2018 The Rhythm Room Phoenix, AZ
    Jan 18, 2018 Boulder Station Casino, Las Vegas, NV
    Jan 19, 2018 The Canyon Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita , CA
    Jan 27, 2018 San Luis Obispo Vets Hall, San Luis Obispo, CA
    Jan 28, 2018 Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz, CA
    Feb 04, 2018 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Fort Lauderdale, FL 02/04/18-02/11/18
    Feb 20, 2018 Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland, OR

About 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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