The Bands - 2014
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
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 band had a huge fan base and toured the U.S. constantly. He honed his chops with the group 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. 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. He began touring nationally, picking up new fans everywhere he went.
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, and began years of year-round, relentless touring, continuing to this day. 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 inspired vocal delivery, masterful horn arrangements and expert guitar work. 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). His song Hard Believer (co-written with Bonnie Hayes, who co-produced The Devil You Know), took first place in the blues category of the 2012 International Songwriting Competition.
In 2011, Castro 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 anchored by Castro and an all-star collection of nationally recognized blues musicians. 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 the late Michael “Iron Man” Burks, along with Debbie Davies, Theodis Ealey, Sista Monica and Trampled Under Foot.
THE PAINKILLERS ARE:
RANDY McDONALD 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—in 1983, 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 appears on seven Castro albums and has toured the world with Tommy, helping the band to become one of the most celebrated roots music groups performing anywhere. McDonald left the group 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.”
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 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.”
David Tucker was born in Syracuse, NY in 1964. He started drumming at age 14, falling in love with blues and funk music. Since moving to Santa Cruz, CA, Tucker has toured and/or recorded with Maria Muldaur, Sista Monica, James Armstrong and John “Broadway” Tucker. Castro is happy to have Tucker in the band. “David’s a great fit for The Painkillers. He plays with a natural sound.” Tucker couldn’t agree more. “Tommy’s the man,” he says. “I am thrilled to be in the band. I love killing the pain.”
Bryan Lee – The Braille Blues Daddy
Born on March 16, 1943 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Bryan Lee lost his eye sight and was legally blind by the age of eight.
Bryan Lee had an avid interest in early Rock and Roll and Blues Music which was fostered through the 1950’s late night listening sessions from the Nashville Music radio stations such as WLAC. This is where Lee was first introduced to the sounds of Elmore James, T-Bone Walker and many other influential bluesmen.
The man now known as “Braille Blues Daddy” started out playing for Midwest crowds at the early age of 15. In the late 1950’s, Bryan Lee opened for Bill Haley & The Comets with his band "The Glaciers" performing cover music of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
By the early 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, Bryan Lee’s musical interest turned to the sound of Chicago Blues while touring throughout the Midwest. He was heavily influenced by Chicago Bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin and Freddie King.
While on tour in the 1980’s Bryan opened for one of his hero’s Muddy Water’s. After the show Muddy told Bryan: “Bryan, stay with this, one day you will be a living legend.” – “I went home and I cried” says Lee. Although his acceptance in the Chicago Blues Scene didn’t come until later in his career, Bryan has the respect of his friends and peers such as Buddy Guy and Lonnie Brooks. Bryan Lee and his band frequently pack the Legend’s house performing authentic blues.
In the late 1970’s Bryan fell in love with the city of New Orleans and eventually moved to the Crescent City on Jan 6, 1982. Bryan Lee has been a fixture of the French Quarter music scene ever since. His guitar brings the Chicago styled blues of Luther Allison, as well as Albert King and Albert Collins down to the Crescent City. Bryan Lee made his stand, performing 5 nights a week for over 14 years at the Old Absinthe House. Bryan gained the nickname “New Orleans Blues Institution” from Quint Davis, producer of NOLa Jazz and Heritage Festival, of which Bryan has performed at for 26 years now.
During the 1990’s Bryan and the Jump Street Five Band initiated a long recording deal with Justin Time Records from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.The collaboration and Lee’s individual sets would take him to recording 13 albums over two decades.
2009 My Lady Don't Love My Lady
2007 Katrina Was Her Name
Nominated for BMA Best Contemporary Blues CD 2008
Won German Critics Award for Outstanding Blues CD of 2008
2006 Live and Dangerous DVD
2005 Live and Dangerous CD
2003 Greatest Hits
2002 Six String Therapy
2000 Crawfish Lady
1998 Friday Night at the Old Absinthe House
1998 Saturday Night Live at the Old Absinthe House
1995 Blues Is
1995 Heat Seeking Missile
1994 Braille Blues Daddy
1993 Memphis Bound
1991 Bryan Lee and the Jump Street Five
In 1995, Bryan shared his stage with a then 13 year old, Kenny Wayne Sheppard. Bryan was so blown away by Kenny’s guitar playing that he invited Kenny to be on his “Friday Night – Saturday Night Live from The Old Absinthe House “recording along with the great James Cotton and Frank Marino. Kenny also made a special guest appearance on Bryan’s l2009 CD "My Lady Don’t Love My Lady," along with Buddy Guy.
After the closing of The Old Absinthe House and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, Bryan formed a new band and hit the road. Starting over with Brent Johnson on guitar and John Perkins on drums, Bryan Lee and The Blues Power Band started touring all over the world.
One of many highlights of Bryan Lee’s career would be performing at BB King’s 80th Birthday in 2005, as well as being a special guest on the Kenny Wayne Sheppard “Blues from the Backroads, 10 Days Out” Documentary and album(2007). During this 6 week tour Bryan was able to connect with the late great musicians such as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Summlin, Eddie Kirkland and Willie Big Eye Smith along with Buddy Flett, among many others. Bryan Lee performed hit original hit tune” Tina Marie” with KWS and friends on the Jay Leno Show in 2007 as well as on the Tavis Smiley Show.
In 2010; Bryan was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on “Live! In Chicago” with Kenny Wayne Sheppard and Friends and won a BMA for Best Rock Blues Album for the same album. In 2012 Bryan played his 26th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and along The Blues Power Band to a packed tent.
A new protégé – Matthew Curry. If Curry’s experiences as a young bluesman sound similar to those of a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd it’s because the duo’s formative years are very much alike. They even share a common mentor – New Orleans’ bluesman Bryan Lee. “Vocally, my main number one influence is Bryan Lee. He’s just the nicest man I’ve ever met on earth,” Curry said. “He’s toured all over the world and he knows that he and his band are great, but yet he’s so humble about it. Me and him and his guitar player Brent all stay in touch. As far as the blues, I think Bryan Lee is the best blues singer that I’ve ever heard.”
In 2012 Bryan Lee signed on with Severn Records, and in 2013 released "Play One for Me," with David Earl as producer, Kim Wilson on harp, Johnny Moeller on guitar, and the Severn Records house band.
Blues guitarist Jarekus Singleton,touted as the "New Face of Blues," will blow you away with his alternating soulful and blazing guitar licks -playing beyond his 29 years. His band is tight and they perform as seasoned musicians .
The Jarekus Singleton Band performs regularly in clubs, festivals and venues across Mississippi and the Southeast, as well as private events, parties and wedding receptions. They performed at the 2013 Chicago Blues Festival, the 2011 Oxford Blues Festival, the LowCountry Blues Bash in 2011, and The Juke Joint Festival and The Greenwood, South Carolina Blues Cruise in 2012 .
Jarekus and his band competed in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN in 2013 and came away with rave reviews and new fans both here in the USA and abroad. He was named 2011 Guitar Center's King of the Blues in Mississippi and labeled as a "star on the rise" by Blues & Rhythm Magazine in the United Kingdom. Jarekus received a guitar endorsement from Clevenger Guitars. Jarekus was chosen as the 2012 Blues Artist of the Year and the 2013 Artist of the Year by the Jackson MS Music Awards.
Jarekus has performed with well-known artists King Edward, Omar Cunningham, Zac Harmon, Grady Champion and others.
Jarekus will tell you, " I play what I feel," and that is evident in his music and lyrics. Feeling comes out of his guitar, vocals and his band. In 2011 Jarekus released his first CD, Heartfelt (all originals), and has had 3 songs from that CD in rotation on B.B. King's Bluesville on Sirius/XM radio. He is currently working on his second CD which will be released in early 2014. Jarekus Singleton is a guitar master beyond his years, whose time has come.
Steve Smith – Solo performance
Steve began his musical career as a front man at the age of 13. He learned to sing when he began covering soul tunes by Otis Redding, Wayne Cochran, Wilson Picket, Same and Dave and Al Green in local bands. Steve is a veteran road musician and published songwriter who has toured extensively throughout U.S. for the past 48 years. The press has called Steve “The man with too much soul to control.” His powerful, dynamic vocals and colorful keyboard style have been the centerpiece for many well know local and regional acts such as Zap, Head Over Heels, Landslide, Funkenstein, Cherry Tomato and the Hot House Boys, Hot Damn Rhythm and Blues Review, OzConn, Regarding Dan, The Painter Smith Band, Loon Rangers and The Bluesberries. Steve has worked with or opened for many major recording artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Jethro Tull and B.B. King. Hall and Oats, Asleep at The Wheel, The Raspberries, Big Star, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Rare Earth, Foghat, John Prine and The Amazing Rhythm Aces. As the main songwriter for the band, Smith has produced several acclaimed CD’s including “Hoodoo man,” “Cryin For Mercy” and Steve’s first solo effort, “Hopeless Troubadour.”
JD & The MudHounds
Take a trip with JD & The Mudhounds.... A musical road trip through Memphis and Clarksdale, with a side trip to New Orleans, ending up in Chicago and you have a idea of the Blues, Soul, and Boogie of JD & The Mudhounds. The band’s music has been described as authentic, fresh and new, yet with a cool retro vibe. It's The Real Deal. JD & The Mudhounds is not just a blues band, it's an experience.
Dave Faragher - John Simpson - Mic Flosi - Rick Hendry