Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
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 16 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 for over seven 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. “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.”
Born in San Jose, California in 1955, Tommy first picked up a guitar at age 10. He formed the first Tommy Castro Band in 1991, releasing his debut album in 1996 on the Blind Pig label. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Castro recorded a series of critically acclaimed albums for various labels, then hooked up with Alligator Records in 2009, releasing Hard Believer to massive acclaim. Castro formed the first incarnation of The Painkillers in 2012, and by 2014 (with Brown and Emerson taking over drums and keys respectively), Castro stripped his music down to its raw essence with the new, smaller band, creating a larger than life sound. The San Francisco Chronicle describes Castro’s music as, “funky Southern soul, big city blues and classic rock...silvery guitar 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 the spirits.” The Washington Post says Castro is “phenomenal and funky” with “soulful vocals and inspired blues-rock guitar.” Blues Revue perhaps sums it up best by simply saying, “Tommy Castro can do no wrong.”
In 2022, hot on the heels of his latest release, "A Bluesman Comes to Town," Castro and his band snagged Blues Music Awards for Album of the Year, Band of the Year, and, for the third time, the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). His relentless road-dog approach—gig after gig, night after night—has won him loyal, lifelong fans everywhere he plays. Live on stage, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers’ road-hardened musicianship brings an unmatched passion to Castro’s blue-eyed California soul and hard-rocking, good-time songs. We are happy to welcome Tommy Castro and the Painkillers back to the Muncie Three Trails stage.