Tommy Castro and The Painkillers
. Empress Theatre , Vallejo [Ages 21+]
Tommy Castro and The Painkillers with their latest "A Bluesman Came To Town"
“The hardest thing to do,” says beloved soul-blues rocker Tommy Castro, “is be yourself, take some chances and bring your fans along with you." Throughout his long, constantly evolving career, guitarist, singer and songwriter Tommy Castro has always remained true to himself while exploring, growing and creating new music, and taken his thousands of devoted fans right along with him. Since his solo debut in 1994, he’s made 16 albums—the last seven for Alligator—each its own unique chapter in the book of Tommy Castro. Ranging from horn-fueled R&B to piping hot blues to fiery, stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, each release is solidly built upon Castro’s unshakable musical foundation—a dynamic mix of 1960s-influenced guitar-fueled blues, Memphis-soaked blue-eyed soul and Latin-tinged East San Jose funk, all driven by Castro’s grab-you-by-the-collar vocals and passionate guitar work.
For Castro’s new album, a roots music odyssey entitled Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, he tells a timeless story. This special project was composed by Castro along with Grammy Award-winning producer Tom Hambridge. Through its 13 songs, A Bluesman Came To Town tells the tale of a young man working on his family farm who gets bitten by the blues bug. He masters the guitar and heads out on the road seeking fame and fortune, only to find what he’s left behind is the treasure he’s been looking for. Each memorable song—from the blistering title track to the pleading Child Don’t Go to the hopeful I Caught A Break to the emotional Blues Prisoner—stands on its own, as well as contributing to the larger story.
Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Tommy Castro first picked up a guitar at age 10. He fell under the spell of Elvin Bishop, Taj Mahal, Mike Bloomfield and other artists of the day. Mixing the blues and rock and roll he loved and the soul music he heard blasting from lowriders in his neighborhood Tommy started to create his own personal sound and style. He honed his guitar skills and intense, gritty vocals. He formed the first Tommy Castro Band in 1992 and has not stopped touring since. In 1995, soon after releasing his first album on Blind Pig Records, The Tommy Castro Band was selected as the house band on NBC Television’s Comedy Showcase (airing right after Saturday Night Live). The show brought him in front of millions of viewers every week and cemented his reputation as a not-to-be-missed, nationally touring live performer.
After a series of successful releases, Tommy Castro joined Alligator Records in 2009. His label debut, Hard Believer, was released to massive popular and critical acclaim. With the album, Castro won four of his six career Blues Music Awards, including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year Award - the highest award a blues performer can receive. In 2012, Castro stripped his music down to its raw essence, creating a high-energy, larger-than-life sound with the formation of The Painkillers. With the current version of The Painkillers (bassist Randy McDonald, drummer Bowen Brown and keyboardist Michael Emerson), Castro released Method To My Madness in 2015, Stompin’ Ground in 2017, and Killin’ It–Live in 2019, with critics shouting praise and admirers cheering the group’s every move. The band has coalesced into one of the telepathically tightest units Castro has ever assembled, making them one of the most in-demand live roots music acts performing today, delivering soul-shaking, muscular music.
Castro’s relentless road-dog approach—gig after gig, night after night—has won him lifelong fans everywhere he plays. The Washington Post says Castro is “phenomenal and funky” with “soulful vocals and inspired blues guitar.” The San Francisco Chronicle describes Castro’s music as, “funky Southern soul, big city blues and classic rock...silvery guitar licks that simultaneously sound familiar and fresh."
With 'A Bluesman Came To Town' Castro and The Painkillers will perform fan favorites as well as songs from the new album. “I’ve made seven albums for Alligator,” Castro says, “and I’ve never made the same record twice. I will always try to be my most authentic self. I give it all I’ve got every time we hit the stage!”
All patrons attending a performance in the Lounge or Theatre must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and show proof upon entry along with a government-issued photo ID. The City of Vallejo also requires a mask to be worn at all indoor events. Thank you for your cooperation in ensuring the safety of all patrons and staff.