Benefit for Tom: For the Tom Size Cancer Fund

Benefit for Tom: For the Tom Size Cancer Fund

Tommy Castro, Laurie Lewis And Tom Rozum, Linda Tillery, Los Cenzontles, Barbara Higbie, Nina Gerber & Chris Webster, Bill Evans, Hillsto Hollers

Saturday, July 23rd

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$26 Advance/$28 Door

Tommy Castro
Tommy Castro
"The Californian's latest album represents a high-water mark in his career. Indomitable spirit informs his songs about optimism in dark times or the role of luck in romantic matters - he is offering some of his catchiest original material ever." –DownBeat

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

"Funky Southern soul, big city blues and classic rock...silvery guitar licks that simultaneously sound familiar and fresh." –San Francisco Chronicle


Night after night, Tommy Castro, a fierce and fiery road warrior, fervently delivers his driving, blues-soaked, soul-baring music to fans all over the world. The road is where he honed his guitar playing to a razor's edge. It's where he learned how to captivate an audience with his intensely passionate vocals and his memorable songs, licks and grooves. It's where he learned to turn his band into a dynamic, high-performance engine, able to bring down the house with a soulful ballad and then bring fans to their feet with a blistering blues rocker. In the words of Blues Revue, "Tommy Castro can do no wrong."

Over the course of his four-decade career, Castro has played thousands of shows to hundreds of thousands of fans, packing dance floors, always leaving them screaming for more. He has released 14 albums filled with original blues, soul and West Coast rock, each one standing alone. Hailing from the San Francisco area, Castro, along with his band, The Painkillers (currently featuring bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Michael Emerson and drummer Bowen Brown), play music that is guaranteed to fire up fans and leave critics searching for new words of praise. Billboard says the band plays "irresistible contemporary blues-rock" with "street-level grit and soul." Now, with Method To My Madness, the group turns the intensity up another notch.

"My main objective when making a new album," says Castro, "is to do something different from before. I've always been a blues guy; it's what I'm meant to do. But I'm always listening and reacting to what's going on in the outside world, experimenting with my guitar tone and my songwriting approach to constantly keep my music fresh. In the end, though, my brand is on every song." Method To My Madness finds Tommy Castro And The Painkillers at their very best. It is instantly a career-defining highlight in a lifetime full of them. The album was recorded at Laughing Tiger Studio in San Rafael, California and produced by Castro (his first time at the helm) using no recording studio wizardry, just the unadulterated sound of the band. Castro's songs—he wrote or co-wrote 10 of 12 tracks—are raw, raucous and rocking. From the opening one-two punch of everyman anthems Common Ground and Shine A Light to the full-tilt energy of the title track to the searing, deep soul ballad Died And Gone To
Heaven, Tommy and the band are firing on all cylinders. From the bayou rock of Got A Lot and the atmospheric, autobiographical Ride to the reinvented version of the Clarence Carter hit I'm Qualified and the emotional cover of B.B. King's Bad Luck, Tommy Castro And The Painkillers continue to break new ground while simultaneously having an incredible amount of fun.

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, Mike Bloomfield and other blues rock players. As he got older, Castro discovered the blues guitar work of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James and the deep-rooted soul of singers like Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. By his 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 before forming The Tommy Castro Band in 1991. He released his debut album in 1996 on Blind Pig and hit the road hard, 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.

Castro joined Alligator Records in 2009, releasing Hard Believer to massive acclaim. He won four of his six career Blues Music Awards including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year Award (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). His song Hard Believer took first place in the blues category of the International Songwriting Competition. His next release, 2011's Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue–Live! was a fiery collection of the highlights from a series of live performances anchored by Castro and an all-star collection of nationally recognized blues musicians, including Rick Estrin, Michael "Iron Man" Burks and Joe Louis Walker. His road-dog approach—gig after gig—has won him loyal fans everywhere he plays.

Castro formed The Painkillers in 2012, creating a lean, mean four-piece lineup and leaving his tight horn section behind. Fueled by Tommy's voice and guitar plus bass, drums and keyboards, the band released The Devil You Know in 2014, winning over hordes of new fans. Castro stripped his music down to its raw essence with the band hammering their point home on the bandstand. Jambands declared, "Tommy Castro And The Painkillers are a crackling, stripped-down band with plenty of grit and a rocking soul."

Now, with Method To My Madness, Tommy Castro And The Painkillers are ready to unleash their new songs on music fans everywhere. "With the new album," Castro says, "I was trying to get back to my basic ingredients: blues and soul. I went for the energy of connecting with my band. We kept everything raw, capturing the feeling of playing live. I'm not about being perfect," he says, summing up. "I'm about being real." Clearly that is the method to his madness.

MEET THE PAINKILLERS
RANDY McDONALD (bass)
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."

MIKE EMERSON (keyboards)
Mike was born in San Francisco in 1967. He started piano lessons at the age of 7, and started playing in bands in high school. Since then, he has performed and/or recorded extensively with a wide range of musicians—Elvin Bishop, Carlene Carter, Percy Sledge, Zigaboo Modeliste, Chris Cain, The Blues Broads, Terry Haggerty, Harvey Mandel, Debbie Davies, James Armstrong, Will Ray(from the Hellecasters), Earl Thomas, Johnny Dyer, Christine Lakeland and Thad Beckman, to name but a few. He has performed at some of the world's most prestigious festivals, including the Monterey Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

BOWEN BROWN (drums)
Bowen Brown was born in Palo Alto, CA in 1958. He started playing drums at age 9 after getting turned on to Jimi Hendrix and Cream. He began working in club bands at the age of 15. For many years Bowen played in all kinds of club bands around Northern California, as well as some time in NYC. In 1988 Bowen began a 6 year stint with the legendary John Lee Hooker, touring the globe, recording, and sharing the stage with many other great Blues and Rock artists who flocked to pay their respects to this elder statesman of the Blues. Since leaving Hooker's band Bowen has worked with a variety of artists including Mark Hummel and Little Charlie Baty, Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, Stompy Jones, Chuck Prophet and many more. It was during his years with Hooker that Bowen met Tommy and Randy. "The SF blues scene in the early 90′s was pretty hot, and Tommy's band was at the top….absolutely on fire! I really dug what they were doing back then, and I am really honored to be a part of this band now!"
Laurie Lewis And Tom Rozum
Laurie Lewis And Tom Rozum
Not only has the International Bluegrass Music Association twice named Laurie the Female Vocalist of the Year – not only did she win a Grammy for her contribution to True Life Blues: the Songs of Bill Monroe – but she also graduated from Berkeley High. Since graduation, she’s recorded more than 20 albums – with the Good Ol’ Persons, Grant Street, Kathy Kallick, and her current band Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, as well as several solo projects – and is now working with many talented new artists, helping them find their way in the recording business.

Northern California-based American bluegrass mandolinist and singer. Born January 21, 1951. Best known for his long-time collaboration with partner Laurie Lewis. A native New Englander, Tom first joined forces with Laurie in 1986 as an original member of Grant Street, and may well be the rightest of all the Right Hands. He and Laurie collaborated on a beautiful, Grammy-nominated album of duets, The Oak and the Laurel, and he also has released a wonderful solo album, Jubilee, recorded with an all-star cast of musicians including Laurie, Mike Marshall, Herb Pederson, and Darol Anger.
Linda Tillery
Linda Tillery
Linda Tillery's career began in 1967 as lead singer of the Berkeley based, psychedelic soul band, Loading Zone. Since those early days she has collaborated as vocalist and percussionist on more than eighty recordings with the likes of Santana, Huey Lewis and the News, The Whispers, Taj Mahal, Kenny and Pete and Sheila Escovedo. She was both artist and producer at Olivia Records, was a founding member of Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra, and founded Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. Linda’s journey is a true representation of the Bay Area music scene – through psychedelic 60’s soul, groundbreaking 70’s activism, 80’s R&B glitz, numerous cross cultural collaborations and since 1990, her exploration into the roots of the African American music experience. Now, in 2018, she is at the height of her musical powers, continuing her adventures in sound, and exploring what it means to be a local legend.
Los Cenzontles
Los Cenzontles
Los Cenzontles (Nahuatl for "The Mockingbirds") dig deep into Latino traditions to promote dignity, pride and cultural understanding. The group has pioneered revivals of Mexican roots music in California bringing traditions to new generations. The Mockingbirds now create a powerful new hybrid sound – creating a fresh Chicano voice for a new generation.
Barbara Higbie
Barbara Higbie
Barbara Higbie is a master of piano and violin who combines technical brilliance with the pure joy of playing. Her unique compositions weave together elements of jazz, folk, and classical with the music of Ghana and Brazil. She’s joined tonight by a group of musical guests for an evening of melodic merry making.
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
San Francisco Bay Area musician Bill Evans curates the California Banjo Extravaganza each year. Bill has spent a lifetime bringing together folks who love and play the five-string banjo. His books Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies and Banjo For Dummies are among the most popular instructional books in the world. These days, you’ll find Bill performing with his solo show The Banjo in America and with flatpicking legend Dan Crary and bass player Wally Barnick. Over the last fifteen years, he has graced the stage of the Freight, appearing with David Bromberg, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Dry Branch Fire Squad, J. D. Crowe, Kathy Kallick, Claire Lynch and Jody Stecher, among many others. His Freight Bluegrass Jam Classes are the most popular ensemble classes in California and his monthly free shows in Kensington with Bangers & Grass, now in its eight year, attract audiences from all over the world. His latest release is Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us, recorded with the late Chattanooga, Tennessee fiddler Fletcher Bright and Norman and Nancy Blake. Bill offers online lessons at www.pegheadnation.com and teaches popular bluegrass ensemble classes right here at the Freight.