West Coast Blues/Rocker Tommy Castro and his band “The Painkillers” visited Twangtown last evening at the City Winery. This was my first time seeing TC live and I was not disappointed. Castro is Jimmy Hall, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Winter, and James Brown all rolled into one! He can articulate the “Blues” with the finesse of a seasoned performer and the energy and rawness of a “Rock & Roll” bar band and then slap you with some soulful R&B. The results made the audience (as witnessed be me last evening) “dance like no one’s watching”. Tommy addressed the audience frequently sharing stories of his song’s inspiration, co-writers, & life on the road. You could tell he had been around the block a time or two but still had that youthful enthusiasm that great MUSIC generates within us. Tommy began playing guitar at age 10 & was influenced by Blues-Legends Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Freddy King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James, as well as soul icons James Brown, Wilson Picket, & Ray Charles. Tommy quickly took to playing with several “Blues” & “Soul R&B” bands in and around San Francisco. After 50 years playing the Bay area Tommy has a huge following & consistently sells out dates way in advance. The “Painkillers” consist of Randy McDonald of Harrisburg, PA on bass, Mike Emerson of San Francisco. CA on keyboards, & Bowen Brown of Palo Alto, CA on drums all are seasoned contributors & have deep roots in the SF blues scene.
To wrap it up in one word….FUN! To quote Tommy "the blues makes you feel better" and I would agree! I had a fun evening listening to some kick ass musicians & performers playing their music with “smiles” on their faces. I only wish they had played longer & I didn’t have to get up the next morning to go to work! I can’t wait to see them again….SOON!