Night after night, Tommy Castro, a fierce and fiery road warrior, fervently delivers his driving,blues-soaked, soul-baring music to fans all over the world. The road is where he honed his guitarplaying to a razor’s edge. It’s where he learned how to captivate an audience with his intensely passionate vocals and his memorable songs, licks and grooves. It’s where he learned to turn his band into a dynamic, high-performance engine, able to bring down the house with a soulful balladand then bring fans to their feet with a blistering blues rocker. In the words of Blues Revue,“Tommy Castro can do no wrong.”Over the course of his four-decade career, Castro has played thousands of shows to hundreds ofthousands of fans, packing dance floors, always leaving them screaming for more. He hasreleased 14 albums filled with original blues, soul and West Coast rock, each one standing alone.Hailing from the San Francisco area, Castro, along with his band, The Painkillers (currentlyfeaturing bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Michael Emerson and drummer Bowen Brown),play music that is guaranteed to fire up fans and leave critics searching for new words of praise.Billboard says the band plays “irresistible contemporary blues-rock” with “street-level grit andsoul.” Now, with Method To My Madness, the group turns the intensity up another notch.
“My main objective when making a new album,” says Castro, “is to do something different frombefore. I’ve always been a blues guy; it’s what I’m meant to do. But I’m always listening andreacting to what’s going on in the outside world, experimenting with my guitar tone and my songwriting approach to constantly keep my music fresh. In the end, though, my brand is on everysong.” Method To My Madness finds Tommy Castro And The Painkillers at their very best. It isinstantly a career-defining highlight in a lifetime full of them. The album was recorded atLaughing Tiger Studio in San Rafael, California and produced by Castro (his first time at thehelm) using no recording studio wizardry, just the unadulterated sound of the band. Castro’s songs—he wrote or co-wrote 10 of 12 tracks—are raw, raucous and rocking. From the openingone-two punch of everyman anthems Common Ground and Shine A Light to the full-tilt energy ofthe title track to the searing, deep soul ballad Died And Gone To Heaven, Tommy and the band are firing on all cylinders. From the bayou rock of Got A Lot and the atmospheric,autobiographical Ride to the reinvented version of the Clarence Carter hit I’m Qualified and theemotional cover of B.B. King’s Bad Luck, Tommy Castro And The Painkillers continue to breaknew ground while simultaneously having an incredible amount of fun.Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Tommy Castro first picked up a guitar at age 10. He fellunder the spell of Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield and other blues rock players. Ashe got older, Castro discovered the blues guitar work of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Freddie King,Buddy Guy, Elmore James and the deep-rooted soul of singers like Ray Charles, Wilson Pickettand James Brown. By his 20s he was playing in a variety of San Francisco-area blues and soulbands.
Castro joined Warner Brothers’ artists The Dynatones in the late 1980s before forming The Tommy Castro Band in 1991. He released his debut album in 1996 on Blind Pig and hit the roadhard, picking up new fans everywhere he went. In the mid-1990s The Tommy Castro Band servedas the house band for three seasons on NBC Television’s Comedy Showcase (airing right afterSaturday Night Live), bringing him in front of millions of viewers every week. During the 1990sand into the 2000s, Castro released a series of critically acclaimed CDs for Blind Pig, Telarc and33rd Street Records, as well as one on his own Heart And Soul label.Castro joined Alligator Records in 2009, releasing Hard Believer to massive acclaim. He wonfour of his six career Blues Music Awards including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of TheYear Award (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). His song Hard Believer tookfirst place in the blues category of the International Songwriting Competition. His next release,2011’s Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue–Live! was a fierycollection of the highlights from a series of live performances anchored by Castro and an all-star
collection of nationally recognized blues musicians, including Rick Estrin, Michael “Iron Man” Burks and Joe Louis Walker. His road-dog approach—gig after gig—has won him loyal fanseverywhere he plays.Castro formed The Painkillers in 2012, creating a lean, mean four-piece lineup and leaving his tight horn section behind. Fueled by Tommy’s voice and guitar plus bass, drums and keyboards, the band released The Devil You Know in 2014, winning over hordes of new fans. Castro strippedhis music down to its raw essence with the band hammering their point home on the and stand.
their new songs on music fans everywhere. “With the new album,” Castro says, “I was trying to get back to my basic ingredients: blues and soul. I went for the energy of connecting with myband. We kept everything raw, capturing the feeling of playing live. I’m not about being perfect,”he says, summing up. “I’m about being real.” Clearly that is the method to his madness.
Randy McDonald was born in Harrisburg, PA in 1959 and grew up in San Diego. He learned bassat an early age, becoming a first call, in-demand musician by his late teens. McDonald’sinfluences range from straight-ahead jazz to hard rock, blues, and soul music. When he joined TheDynatones—the nationally touring, six-piece blue-eyed soul band—in 1983, it was a perfect fit.During his tenure with the group, McDonald befriended Dynatones guitarist Tommy Castro. Notlong after leaving the band in 1991, McDonald got a call from Castro, who was putting togetherthe first incarnation of The Tommy Castro Band. McDonald appears on seven Castro albums andhas toured the world with Tommy, helping the band to become one of the most celebrated rootsmusic groups performing anywhere. McDonald left the group in 2007 before returning to join ThePainkillers in 2012. “Randy has been with me from the beginning as a major contributor to themusic we were playing,” recalls Castro. “Randy was a big part of the Tommy Castro sound. It’sgreat to have him back.”
MIKE EMERSON (keyboards)Mike was born in San Francisco in 1967. He started piano lessons at the age of 7, and startedplaying in bands in high school. Since then, he has performed and/or recorded extensively with awide range of musicians—Elvin Bishop, Carlene Carter, Percy Sledge, Zigaboo Modeliste, ChrisCain, The Blues Broads, Terry Haggerty, Harvey Mandel, Debbie Davies, James Armstrong, WillRay(from the Hellecasters), Earl Thomas, Johnny Dyer, Christine Lakeland and Thad Beckman,to name but a few. He has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals, includingthe Monterey Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival.
BOWEN BROWN (drums)Bowen Brown was born in Palo Alto, CA in 1958. He started playing drums at age 9 after gettingturned on to Jimi Hendrix and Cream. He began working in club bands at the age of 15. For manyyears Bowen played in all kinds of club bands around Northern California, as well as some timein NYC. In 1988 Bowen began a 6 year stint with the legendary John Lee Hooker, touring theglobe, recording, and sharing the stage with many other great Blues and Rock artists who flockedto pay their respects to this elder statesman of the Blues. Since leaving Hooker’s band Bowen hasworked with a variety of artists including Mark Hummel and Little Charlie Baty, Maria Muldaur,Dan Hicks, Stompy Jones, Chuck Prophet and many more. It was during his years with Hookerthat Bowen met Tommy and Randy. “The SF blues scene in the early 90′s was pretty hot, and
Tommy’s band was at the top….absolutely on fire! I really dug what they were doing back then,and I am really honored to be a part of this band now!”