The best kept secret in the blues is out: Tommy Castro and Tinsley Ellis will reunite onstage at Lake Tahoe’s MontBleu Theatre on Dec. 22, along with Curtis Salgado and Eden Brent. Castro and Ellis’ TNT Tour hit venues on the East Coast and the South last November.
A Marin County resident, Castro is one of the most prolific touring artists in the blues. He’s also been cranking out albums every year or two since the early 1990s, the latest being, “Stompin’ Ground.”
“I still enjoy being out on the road,” Castro told Tahoe Onstage. “Sometimes it gets hard. And some days are just fun. There’s never a dull moment. It’s never boring. And we’re not the party animals that we all once were. It’s pretty tame out here these days. But we do enjoy the people. We enjoy getting up and playing and we have a lot of songs now so we can switch it up and keep it fresh.”
It’s appropriate Ellis, a resident of Atlanta, will perform at a casino. His new album is titled “Winning Hand,” and it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart. It marked his second comeback to Alligator Records.
“I re-re-signed with the best promoters of roots music,” Ellis told Tahoe Onstage. “I’m returning to the guitar-driven, hard rock sound I had on Alligator.”
When Alligator balked at his experimentation into different styles in 2012, Ellis started his own Heartfixer label, vowing to release five records in five years. The first was an instrumental album, “Get It,” and another was R&B, “Red Clay Soul.”
While Ellis cranked out records, he continued his friendship with Alligator Records and its founder and president, Bruce Iglauer. Ellis recently asked Iglauer’s opinion on some rough mix recordings.
“He liked it so much, we were able to make a deal,” said Ellis, whose five-in-five prediction came through in unexpected fashion.
“This is very much a return to the Alligator-Tinsley tradition,” Iglauer said. “It’s a harder-edged album than what he’s been doing.”
Salgado, who is from Portland, Oregon, also records for Alligator. His 2018 album, “Rough Cut” includes a song that received continuous radio play over the summer: “I Want My Dog to Live Longer (The Greatest Wish)”
The song’s main verse, or “hook,” has been with Salgado since his dog Chester died.
“When I was a puppy, he was a puppy, and when I was 14, Chester was 14,” Salgado said.
That’s when he learned about dogs’ short lifespans. He still grieves and anyone who has had a dog can relate.
A three-time cancer survivor, Salgado has won numerous Blue Music Awards, especially in the Soul category.
John Belushi’s “Blues Brothers” character Joliet Jake was based on Salgado. The actor saw Salgado perform in Eugene, Oregon, when he was making the movie “Animal House.”
“Little Boogaloo Eden Brent is a piano player with a distinctive bluesy singing voice that has been compared to Memphis Minnie.
A resident of Greenville, Mississippi, Brent won the 2006 International Blues Challenge. She has four albums and three BMA’s, including Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.
— Tim Parsons