Tommy Castro, Painkillers at Lake Tahoe

Tommy Castro and the Painkillers are, from left, Randy McDonald, Tommy Castro and new guys Bowen Brown and Michael Emerson. Photo by Victoria Smith

Tommy Castro and the Painkillers are, from left, Randy McDonald, Tommy Castro and new guys Bowen Brown and Michael Emerson.
Photo by Victoria Smith

Tommy Castro is crazy good.

The bluesman’s lastest record “Method to My Madness” demonstrates once again his unrelenting drive to deliver something new and better.

Three years ago, Castro parted ways with his soulful horn section and created a blues rocking four-piece band, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. Now he’s lost his producer. “Method to My Madness” is Castro’s first self-produced album in a career that has had 17 since 1994. Give it a listen, and you will agree with the artist who sings, “I’m Qualified.”

Tommy Castro and the Painkillers @ Harrah's South Shore Room 12-20-2014-474-LCastro wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 tunes on “Method to My Madness.” Highlights include a low-down blues, “Lose Lose,” a radio-friendly “No Such Luck,” and a spooky driving song, “Ride.”

“I was trying to get back to my basic ingredients: blues and soul,” Castro said in a press statement. “I went for the energy of connecting with my band. We kept everything raw, capturing the feeling of playing live.”

Four of Castro’s six Blues Music Awards came from the 2009 Alligator Records’ debut, “Hard Believer.” It would be easy to believe “Method to My Madness” will have a similar success. Castro’s forte is his singing voice, but there is a confidence in the arrangements and delivery of the songs that indicate he has reached a new pinnacle in a career that began in the 1980s with the San Francisco band the Dynatones.

“People like their artists to remain the same, and I can’t do it. It’s suffocating,” Castro told Tahoe Onstage before his last appearance in the area, a Dec. 20, 2014, show at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. “Music is a living thing. It’s not meant to stay the same.”

Not only is Castro prolific at making records, he relentlessly tours, playing all venues great and small.

The Painkillers are bass player Randy McDonald, who returned to the band after a several-year hiatus, and new members drummer Bowen Brown and keyboard player Michael Emerson. Each play on “Method to My Madness,” which was recorded at Laughing Tiger Recording in San Rafael, California.

  • Tommy Castro and the Painkillers
    When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1
    Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room
    Tickets: $29.35
Tommy Castro rocks Lake Tahoe during a December 2014 appearance.

Tommy Castro rocks Lake Tahoe during a December 2014 appearance.

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