Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd.
Over the course of his still unfolding career, the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter has released 15 albums ranging from horn fueled soul and R&B to piping hot blues to fiery rock ‘n’ roll. He’s performed all over the world, earning countless fans with his legendary, sweat drenched, exhilarating live shows. Castro’s band, The Painkillers bassist Randy McDonald, drummer Bowen Brown and keyboardist Michael Emerson have now been playing together over four years.
After hundreds of live shows, they have 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. Billboard says the band plays “irresistible contemporary blues rock” with “street level grit and soul.” With the group seemingly hitting new heights with every performance, Castro knew the time was right to answer his fans’ demands for a live album.
Killin’ It Live captures the band at the peak of their creative and improvisational powers, and features one unforgettable, unpredictable performance after another. “This is the best band we’ve ever had,” says Castro. We really got something going on beyond just being good musicians. Every song we play live now has that right feel all the dynamics. It allows us to jam out more on stage. Killin’ It Live is what you hear when you see us live.”
Tinsley Ellis was born in Atlanta in 1957 and was raised in southern Florida. He discovered the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream and The Rolling Stones as well as Southern rockers like The Allman Brothers. One night he and a friend were listening to records when his friend's older brother told them if they liked blues, they should really be listening to B.B. King. As luck would have it, King was in town for a week, and the upcoming Saturday afternoon show was just for teenagers.
Tinsley and his friend went, sitting transfixed in the front row. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed it without missing a beat, and handed the broken string to Ellis. After the show, B.B. came out and talked with fans, mesmerizing Tinsley with his warmth and kindness. Tinsley's fate was now sealed; he had to become a blues guitarist. He saw Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town, always sitting up front, always waiting to meet the artists, take photos, get autographs. And yes, he still has B.B.'s string.
Georgia Blue, Tinsley's first Alligator release, hit the unprepared public by surprise in 1988. Critics and fans quickly agreed that a new and original guitar hero had emerged. The Chicago Tribune said, "Tinsley Ellis torches with molten fretwork. Ellis takes classic, Southern blues-rock workouts and jolts them to new life with a torrid ax barrage."
Tinsley's next four releases—1989's Fanning The Flames, 1992's Trouble Time, 1994's Storm Warning, and 1997's Fire It Up—further grew his fan base and his fame. Features and reviews ran in Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and in many other national and regional publications.
These two legendary blues players have decided to team up on a tour they have dubbed T'n'T. They'll be bringing their electric blues sound to The Newton Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.