November 4, 2012

"Phenomenal and funky...soulful vocals and inspired blues-rock guitar." - The Washington Post

Award-winning guitarist/vocalist/songwriter and Alligator Records recording artist Tommy Castro has been playing his signature brand of rocking rhythm and blues professionally for over 25 years, thrilling fans around the world with his incendiary live performances. With his new, stripped-down, turbo-charged band The Painkillers, Castro has embarked on the next phase of his storied career.

Along with original Tommy Castro Band bassist Randy McDonald, new members Byron Cage on drums and James Pace on keyboards, Castro pares his music down to its tough, raw core. Formed in February 2012, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers have been tearing up the road ever since. "The Painkillers are very soulful and talented musicians with tireless energy that make me feel like I did when I first came on the scene," says Castro. "A lot of folks are having hard times these days, and they need something to lift them up and make them smile. Our music kills the pain."

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers' Alligator recording debut is GREEDY / THAT'S ALL I GOT, a limited- edition, Castro-produced two-song 45 rpm record pressed on money-green vinyl. The 45 will initially be available beginning November 4 only at Castro's live performances, but both songs will be available as downloads.

Greedy is a sure-fire anthem for the times. The insightful, biting lyrics expose the hypocrisy of corporate and political greed while the emotional guitar playing and pulsing rhythms drive the message home. That's All I Got, the infectious, riff-heavy flipside, offers a simple solution to the ills laid out in Greedy: the power of love over money. Castro's melodic, potent guitar playing and pleading vocals tell the story of the song's narrator, who may not be rich, but who can offer plenty of love. With The Painkillers blazing behind him, Castro delivers an instant classic.

Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Tommy Castro first picked up a guitar at age 10. He came under the spell of Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield and other blues rock players early on. As he got older, Castro moved forward by investigating the past, falling in love with the blues guitar work of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James and singers like Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. By his late 20s he was playing in a variety of San Francisco- area blues and soul bands.

Castro joined Warner Brothers artists The Dynatones in the late 1980s. The much-loved rocking soul band had a huge fan base and toured the U.S. constantly. He honed his chops with the band on the road for two years, performing live all across the country and sharing stages with major artists like Carla Thomas and Albert King. He formed The Tommy Castro Band in 1991 and won the Bay Area Music Award for Best Club Band in both 1993 and 1994. With his local fan base quickly expanding, he released his debut album in 1996 on Blind Pig. He began touring nationally with his band, picking up new fans everywhere he went. The album won the 1997 Bay Area Music Award for Outstanding Blues Album, and Castro also took the award for Outstanding Blues Musician that same year.

In the mid-1990s The Tommy Castro Band served as the house band for three seasons on NBC Television's Comedy Showcase (airing right after Saturday Night Live), bringing him in front of millions of viewers every week. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Castro released a series of critically acclaimed CDs for Blind Pig, Telarc and 33rd Street Records as well as one on his own Heart And Soul label. In 2001 and 2002 the legendary B.B. King asked Castro to open his summer concert tours. Castro received an open invitation to join the King Of The Blues on stage for the nightly finale.

Castro's 2009 Alligator debut, HARD BELIEVER, was anchored by his deeply emotional vocal delivery, powerful guitar work and driving rhythms. On the strength of the album and subsequent touring, Castro won four 2010 Blues Music Awards including, for the second time in his career, the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). He took first place in the blues category of The 2012 International Songwriting Competition for his song, (co-written with Bonnie Hayes), "Hard Believer."

In 2011, Castro, the honorary Captain of The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises (a bi-annual week-long cruise where nationally recognized blues stars come together to perform and mingle with fans on the open seas of the Pacific and the Caribbean), released TOMMY CASTRO PRESENTS THE LEGENDARY RHYTHM & BLUES REVUE- LIVE! on Alligator. The album is a fiery collection of the highest highlights from a series of live performances both aboard the ship and on land. In addition to Castro's stellar fretwork and blue-eyed soul vocals, the album features Alligator Records label-mates Joe Louis Walker, Rick Estrin, Janiva Magness and Michael "Iron Man" Burks, along with Debbie Davies, Theodis Ealey, Sista Monica and Trampled Under Foot.

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers will release their full- length debut CD in 2013. Until then, these roadhouse road warriors will continue to bring their crowd- pleasing, dynamic music to fans all around the world. And if GREEDY / THAT'S ALL I GOT is any indication of what the future holds, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers will certainly be easing pain, lifting spirits and filling dance floors for a long time to come.

  Photo by Dana Curley

Tommy Castro, Randy McDonald (bass), Byron Cage (drums), James Pace (keyboards)


Randy McDonald was born in Harrisburg, PA in 1959 and grew up in San Diego. He learned bass at an early age, becoming a first call, in-demand musician by his late teens. McDonald's influences range from straight- ahead jazz to hard rock, blues, and soul music. When he joined The Dynatones - the nationally touring, six-piece blue-eyed soul band - it was a perfect fit. During his tenure with the group, McDonald befriended Dynatones guitarist Tommy Castro. Not long after leaving the band in 1991, McDonald got a call from Castro, who was putting together the first incarnation of The Tommy Castro Band. McDonald appeared on seven Castro albums and toured the world, helping the band to become one of the most celebrated groups performing anywhere. McDonald left the band in 2007 before returning to join The Painkillers in 2012. "Randy has been with me from the beginning as a major contributor to the music we were playing," recalls Castro. "Randy was a big part of the Tommy Castro sound. It's great to have him back."

Anthony Byron Cage was born in Syracuse, NY in 1984. He grew up heavily influenced by gospel and jazz music, and was especially inspired by watching his family members play instruments in church. Playing drums professionally since 2004, Cage has toured internationally with Jason Ricci & New Blood and Nick Moss, and has drummed for a number of local Syracuse and national acts since 2009. Since joining The Painkillers, Cage has taken his talent to his largest audience yet. "Tommy Castro is a great mentor and friend," says Cage. "I've grown so much as a player and a person from working with him."

James Pace was born in Roanoke, VA in 1978. He began playing piano by ear at age three. A proficient pianist, he fell in love with the Hammond B3 organ at age 22, touring with the jam band Rebus before playing with Blind Pig recording artist Harper. In 2008, Pace joined blues guitarist Ana Popovic's band, and spent three years performing with her around the world. He has played on over 30 albums and has shared stages with blues legends including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Los Lobos, and Janiva Magness. Pace is thrilled to be playing with Tommy. "I am blessed to play the music I love with incredible friends," he says, "for the greatest fans on earth."