Albert Castiglia rides atop blues world toward Bluesdays

Albert Castiglia plays like a gold medal winner in Olympic Valley during Bluesdays in The Village at Palisades Tahoe on July 26, 2022.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

Albert Castiglia sings, “I Got Love,” and the feeling is mutual from the blues world.

The title track from Castiglia’s new album has for several months been on the rotation for B.B. King’s Bluesville Channel 74 on Sirius XM Radio. Like each of the 11 original songs on the record, “I Got Love” is a high-energy rocker. The Florida bluesman appears destined to receive more hardware at the next Blues Music Awards.

In 2020, Castigila won the BMA for Best Blues Rock Album for “Masterpiece,” and in 2022 Castiglia won for Best Blues-Rock Artist. He said he was surprised by the latter honor because “the other nominees, particularly Tommy Castro and Tinsley Ellis, they are legends, and Joanne Shaw Taylor is a star on the rise and Ana Popovic is a star, and I hadn’t put an album out that year.

“But I did tour a lot. Really, touring is what it’s all about in this business and we’ve been doing that a lot, either with my band or with (Mike) Zito and the Blood Brothers. In 2021, Zito and myself are the artists who have been touring the most, along with Tab Benoit, who is a madman. That’s the name of the game in terms of being successful in this business. You’ve got to tour. And we just hit it relentlessly.”

Zito spoke by cellphone to Tahoe Onstage where he was filling up with gas in Wyoming on his way to Salt Lake City, then to Denver and finally, on Tuesday to Olympic Valley for his third Bluesdays concert. His trio includes Ephraim Lowell, who co-wrote two of the songs on “I Got Love,” and bassist Mark Garabian.

Castiglia’s previous Bluesdays appearances were in 2013 and 2018.

“The sense of community is what I got out of it,” he said. “People having a good time and feeling the music and just cutting loose. I love the setting. I grew up being a real big Olympics fan and knew about the first ‘Miracle on Ice,’ when the U.S. hockey team upset the Soviet Union.”

“I Got Love” was the fifth Castiglia album Zito, owner of Gulf Coast Records, has produced. Castiglia has 13 solo albums.

“It’s been a recipe for success, like Ted Templeman was to Van Halen or Tom Dowd to Clapton,” Castiglia said. “I am very comfortable working with him. It came from a very deep place. I was going through a lot of ups and downs. I had a lot to say, and he liked what I had to say.”

Castiglia wrote the songs during the pandemic when he was unable to perform. “Love of my family helped keep us going,” he said.

Things got worse after Castiglia became ill, and it led to his song “Long Haul Daddy.”

“It felt like pins and needles in hands and feet, and my neck felt like it was burning up,” he said. “I had bouts with fatigue and trouble sleeping at night. It happened for three or four months after I was quarantined, and it drove me nuts. In the moments I was able to maintain a stable mindset, I was able to write some stuff.”

While Castiglia has been omnipresent on blues radio and has been touring the country ever since he was a sideman for Junior Wells, some people might not have heard him. For those few, if might be best to disregard a Wikipedia reference. Castiglia has reckless and edgy singing voice in the vein of perhaps Johnny Winters or Hound Dog Taylor. However, Wikipedia states “His vocal style has been compared to that of Van Morrison.”

“I am flattered somebody did a Wikipedia page about me but some of that stuff is a little off base,” Castiglia said, as he returned to his vehicle and headed West on Interstate 80.

-Tim Parsons

Castiglia’s 13th solo album was released on March 25, 2022.

Album review: One of the best openers in recent memory, “I Got Love” kicks off Albert Castiglia’s latest album on a simple kick drum beat, and then instantly delivers a kick in the teeth to the repercussions of Covid in the context of true love and its curative powers. LINK

The band rocks Bluesdays in Olympic Valley. From left, Albert Castiglia, Ephraim Lowell and Mark Garabian.
Dogs love Bluesdays, too.
Ephraim Lowell notices a photographer.
Former Reno Blues Society President Pam Farmer, who now lives in Austin, took an eight-day vacation and attended two Bluesdays shows.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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