Tommy Castro and The Painkillers | Album Release Tour


Berkeley, CA

Show: 8:30PM

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    Cornerstone Berkeley at Cornerstone

Event Details

Doors 7:30pm // Show 8:30pm // All Ages // $29 GA / $34 GAV Day of Show / $44 VIP Balcony / $49 VIP Balcony Day of Show

Cornerstone Presents:


Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary bluesand soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Over the course of his still-unfoldingcareer, the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter has released 15 albums ranging from horn-fueled souland R&B to piping hot blues to fiery rock ‘n’ roll. He’s performed all over the world, earningcountless fans with his legendary, sweat-drenched, exhilarating live shows. Castro’s band, ThePainkillers—bassist Randy McDonald, drummer Bowen Brown and keyboardist MichaelEmerson—have now been playing together over four years. After hundreds of live shows, they havecoalesced into one of the telepathically tightest units Castro has ever assembled, making them oneof 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 wasright to answer his fans’ demands for a live album. Killin’ It–Live captures the band at the peak oftheir creative and improvisational powers, and features one unforgettable, unpredictableperformance after another. “This is the best band we’ve ever had,” says Castro. We really gotsomething going on beyond just being good musicians. Every song we play live now has that rightfeel—all the dynamics. It allows us to jam out more on stage. Killin’ It–Live is what you hear whenyou see us live.”

Featuring songs from throughout Castro’s career, Killin’ It–Live was produced by Castro andengineer/songwriter Ron Alan Cohen and recorded at venues in Texas, New York, Michigan andCalifornia during 2018. The album includes eight Castro originals spanning his entire career andtwo Castro-ized covers, each showing a slightly dierent side of his multifaceted musicalpersonality. From fan favorites She Wanted To Give It To Me and Make It Back To Memphis tonewer classics like Lose Lose and Two Hearts to Taj Mahal’s arrangement of Sleepy John Estes’Leaving Trunk (a song Castro has never recorded before but has been playing live for years), Killin’It–Live is a nonstop, spirited mix of blues, rock and soul, with rollicking, hypnotic grooves fueled byCastro’s animated, fervent vocals.

Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Tommy Castro first picked up a guitar at age 10. He fell under the spell of Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Taj Mahal, Mike Bloomfield and other blues-rockers. Almostevery major rock and soul act, from Ike and Tina Turner to Janis Joplin to Elvin Bishop to Taj Mahal,toured through the area, and Castro was at every show. He saw John Lee Hooker, Albert King andBuddy Guy and Junior Wells at the same local blues bar, JJ’s, where he often jammed, dreaming ofone day busting out. Mixing the blues-rock he loved and the soul music he heard blasting out fromhis Mexican friends’ lowriders, Tommy started to create his own personal sound and style. He honedhis guitar skills and intense vocals, learning how to capture an audience as he performed on SanJose’s highly competitive bar scene. As his reputation spread, Tommy played in a variety of BayArea blues and soul bands, soon making a name for himself as a hotter-than-hot live artist burstingat the seams with talent. In 1985, he was recruited to become lead singer and guitarist for theregionally popular blues band NiteCry, gigging regularly throughout Northern California.

Castro joined Warner Brothers’ artists The Dynatones in the late 1980s, performing all over thecountry. He formed the first Tommy Castro Band in 1991, releasing his debut album in 1996 on theBlind Pig label. In the mid-1990s The Tommy Castro Band served as the house band for threeseasons on NBC Television’s Comedy Showcase (airing right after Saturday Night Live), bringinghim in front of millions of viewers every week. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Castrorecorded a series of critically acclaimed CDs for Blind Pig, Telarc and 33rd Street Records, as wellas one on his own Heart And Soul label.

Castro joined Alligator Records in 2009, releasing Hard Believer to massive acclaim. He won fourof his six career Blues Music Awards, including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The YearAward (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). His next release, 2011’s TommyCastro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue–Live!, was a boisterous and searingcollection of highlights from a series of live performances anchored by Castro and an all-starcollection of blues giants, including Rick Estrin, Michael “Iron Man” Burks and Joe Louis Walker. Hisrelentless road-dog approach—gig after gig, night after night—has won him loyal, lifelong fanseverywhere he plays. The Washington Post says Castro is “phenomenal and funky” with “soulfulvocals and inspired blues-rock guitar.”

Castro formed the first incarnation of The Painkillers in 2012, and by 2014 (with Brown andEmerson taking over drums and keys respectively) they had become a lean, mean four-piece lineup,delivering soul-shaking, muscular music. The current band released Method To My Madness in 2015and Stompin' Ground in 2017, with critics shouting praise and admirers cheering the group’s everymove. Castro had stripped his music down to its raw essence with the new, smaller band, creating alarger than life sound. Blues Revue said simply, “Tommy Castro can do no wrong.”

Live on stage, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers’ road-hardened musicianship brings an unmatchedpassion to Castro’s blue-eyed California soul and hard-rocking, good-time songs. The San FranciscoChronicle describes Castro’s music as, “funky Southern soul, big city blues and classic rock...silveryguitar licks that simultaneously sound familiar and fresh.” No Depression says “Castro plays gritty,string-bending blues like a runaway soul train...a glorious blend that rocks the soul and lifts thespirits.” Killin’ It–Live captures the live power and raw passion of Tommy Castro & The Painkillers.It’s the next best thing to being there.

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Event Location



2367 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA, 94704

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Tommy Castro and the Painkillers