A firmly established and highly acclaimed force in the American roots/blues arena, Tommy Castro has a stellar reputation as a recording artist, reinforced by his charismatic live shows. After spending years on the road touring, writing and recording, Castro is at his peak blending the musical genres he loves: blues, soul and rock. His first blues record Live at Cook County Jail, was with one of his idols, BB King. If he'd known his band would be chosen to open for BB King's tour in 2000 in addition to sitting in with BB at a Columbus, Ohio performance, little Tommy might have fainted on the spot. "Well, this is as good as it gets," was Castro's official remark after the concert. He spoke too soon, however; The Tommy Castro Band just keeps getting better.
Pre-BB, Castro recorded Right As Rain in 1999, a CD with guest performances by Dr. John, Delbert McClinton and keyboardist Jimmy Pugh from the Robert Cray Band. Displaying the breadth of the band's musicial talent and Castro's songwriting skills, the song "Don't Turn Your Heater Down," a duet Castro and McClinton version, was touted by Playboy Magazine as "The best Sam and Dave since the original."
Right As Rain went on to hit the Billboard blues charts for eight weeks and was voted one of the 40 best blues albums of all time by a Blues Revue Magazine reader's poll. Audiences on Thursday at the Winery at Eagle Knoll are bound to know a few of his tunes.
The band's most recent release, Gratitude, is a tribute CD in honor of Castro's own newly created label, Heart and Soul Records. "This whole CD is just about having a blast-playing great songs by all the cats I like," says Castro on his Web site. "We couldn't even come close to getting them all in. I guess we'll just have to make another one."
To quote his legendary hero, BB King said of Castro, "I knew when Tommy first came out on tour with me some years back, that he has what it takes. Gratitude shows that, and takes us back to the roots that have influenced him. He's really done something special!"
June 2, 7 p.m., $15, The Winery at Eagle Knoll,