C. J. Walsh
Tommy Castro - StageOne - Fairfield, CT 2012
Tommy Castro and the Painkillers – March 22, 2012
StageOne – Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
View: Stage left, first row
Unusually warm March weather must have reminded Tommy Castro of his home in California and his show recalled another Californian with a knack for channeling Southern soul and Delta blues – John Fogerty. Foregoing the horn section this time around, he led a crackling, stripped down band that possessed plenty of grit.
Castro is a good singer and musician, but what sets him apart is the ability to lift any number of styles from his kit bag and let fly. A veteran of the blues boom of the 1980s, he’s developed a supple style that roams the blues-rock spectrum and on songs like “Love Don’t Care” and a voice that brings to mind Delbert McClinton and the late Willy DeVille. Elsewhere the blue-collar groove of “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” came across much coarser in the club setting. Castro talked of his youth learning songs by listening to records, so we got a trawl through his collection - Howlin’ Wolf’s “44 Blues” and a loose take on Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”.
Another highlight “Monkey’s Paradise”, where Castro’s guitar was to the fore, with speedy chord changes and a rambunctious rhythm. Later, ten minutes of John Lee Hooker’s “Serves Me Right To Suffer” at full gallop - by the end Byron Cage’s jackhammer drumming caused his sticks to splinter and a version that would’ve met with the approval of the Boogie Man himself.