Avoiding the repetition of almost 20 albums in a recording career was the challenge for Bluesman Tommy Castro when he wrote and produced what he calls a blues opera.
“Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came to Town” is the fictional story of a young man in a small town who is hypnotized by a traveling bluesman.
Ahead of his show in Bloomington on Friday night, the Alligator Records recording artist told WGLT the idea came from a conversation with a friend.
“And I thought, you know, that’s an idea,” Castro explained. “I don’t think anyone has ever tried. And that would be a good challenge for me as a songwriter. Because each song is really a little story. And I wanted to work with Tom Hambridge for a long time. I thought it would be a good time to bring out a really good record producer like Tom.
Castro grew up in San Jose, a relatively large city, but made the youngster of his small-town story. He said he could relate because he had family in California’s Central Valley.
“My uncle was a dairy farmer and my mother’s family came from the rural, agricultural part of the state. So I have some knowledge of that, and just some of the stories of the great blues men that I know. They all worked on a farm, you know. BB King was behind a mule when he was 10, working in the fields and stuff like that. Part of his motivation to gamble was to get out there and find another way to make a living. So there are a lot of different stories that I draw inspiration from,” Castro said.
Castro says the rock opera isn’t autobiographical, but it’s evident that he drew on some of his own experiences, including the title track.
Must be a better way to use those hands and arms
Once he heard that guitar
He shook him to the ground
A bluesman came to town
He felt the tug
A bluesman came to town
He caught the virus
– From the song “A Bluesman Came to Town” by Tommy Castro
“My story isn’t exactly like that. But the same thing happened. I was exposed to music, and it just changed me somehow. given a purpose in life that I didn’t really have before. I was really bad at sports. And I wasn’t a very good student, I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was I had ADD at the time and they just didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t have anything I really liked, but I had a natural feel for the guitar. When I had a guitar in my hands, and that I learned a few things. My peers and friends around me thought I was really good at it. And so, I remember that was the thing that saved me,” Castro said.
Is it fair to say that it changed your life?
“I just can’t imagine what I would do and there was a time when I was so happy when I was on a gig playing music even when I was a part time warrior type musician the weekend. I was literally living for those weekends, and band practice was even fun…just to get together with the guys after work on a weeknight and practice in someone’s garage. Just playing was so good and the idea of putting everything I had into it and making it my life…you know…it worked,” Castro said.
The blues opera is currently in album form only. While he’s open to shooting as an opera, a musical or even a movie if anyone knows how to pull it off, he said it’s not in his skill set.
“And I’m not going to try to take on a project like that, because I have my hands full with the full-time touring band. But I’m letting it be known that if somebody comes along, they do that kind of thing. thing and knows how to do this kind of thing and most importantly has the funding to put something like this together. I’d be anywhere,” Castro said.
Tommy Castro and the Painkillers perform at the Stable Music Hall & Lounge in Bloomington on Friday night.