Albert Castiglia / Blog

CD Review - These Are The Days - Blues Revue Jun/July 2008

Albert Castiglia These Are The Days (Blues Leaf Records) This is a flat out, hands down, unconditionally great record. Notice I didn’t say it was great blues record: Over 11 cuts, Castiglia covers everyone from Bob Dylan to Little Willie John. He gives “Night Time Is the Right Time” his best Ray Charles Treatment – you can practically see the background vocalist swaying in their fish-nets. “Celebration” is a “Pink Houses” for those who’ve lost faith in corporate rock, and “Need Your Love So Bad” features Susan Lusher’s quivering church organ accompaniment to Castiglia’s scorpion like sting lead guitar. His vocals sound like he’s twice as old as we know he is. Castiglia, who was Junior Wells’ last lead guitarist, is the Miami-bred son of a Cuban mother and an Italian father. He’s played everywhere from European capital cities to Gulf Coast sports bars, where he competed against flat-screen televisions on Kentucky Derby Day. The result is a tough-as-nails 30-something industry veteran who knows where to leave spaces between the notes and sings like he’s the love child of Dr. John and Joe Ely. He does it all, from the muscular Ronnie Baker brooks-like “Another Bloody Day” to “Blues for Evan” which sounds like Castiglia’s standing next to Elmore James and inventing the electric guitar on the spot. “Godfather of the Blues” pays homage to Wells from the perspective of someone who played with him until he was on his deathbed, and “Bad Year Blues” opens the album with one of the best original lines since Willie Dixon passed: “It’s a real bad year/Only 12 more months to go.” - Don Wilcock

CD Review - These Are The Days - James Skyy Dobro Walker

http://www.illinoisblues.com/bluesartists/acastiglia.htm Albert Castiglia - These Are The Days Blues Leaf Records How do you rate and judge an album? One valid method is: how many listens did it take until one liked it? This method is based on my belief that one will like almost any music after five listens. If not, then six exposures will not help, and one will never like it. So, top rated CDs are the ones you enjoy and relate to with just one listen. Loved-it-upon-my-first-listen makes Albert Castiglia’s third album (second on Blues Leaf) my pick for best album of Jan – May 2008, on its way to album of the year. (Pronounce the 38-year-old’s name “ka-STEEL-ya”) Two other measures cemented These Are The Days’ top position: (1) my wife also immediately liked it upon first listen as we were on a road trip – and she is fussy! (2) there are no horns in this blues album. I must confess my bias here: in too many blues CDs the added horns have as much business being in there as a football bat does in an NFL game. If Muddy Waters didn’t need them, I don’t either. (Ok, I can be fussy, too.) Right from the opening single string guitar notes of track one, “Bad Year Blues,” the mood is up in this original 12 bar shuffle, and the album is happening. Humorous lyrics, underpinned by delicious slide guitar, don’t hurt anything either, “...my new year’s resolution didn’t last too long / tried to quit smokin’ but too many thing went wrong / it’s been a real bad year / only twelve more months to go.” At two minutes, Susan Lusher takes a perky piano solo followed thirty seconds later by a Castiglia slippery slide guitar solo. The rollicking fun and story lyrics continue to an ending that left me smiling a big, “hot damn!” The second number features blistering guitar solos in a funky version with of Robert C. Guidry’s “He’s Got All The Whiskey.” Castiglia’s wonderful blues vocals have been compared to Van Morrison, but that comparison is probably a disservice to Albert. Drummer Bob Amsel and bassist Steve Gaskell expertly hold down the beat while Lusher pours out a cascading piano solo to round out the four piece band. Just as the smoke begins to clear from the CD player, the first notes of the third track slowly emanate, reassuringly giving the listener’s racing heart a break. “Loan Me A Dime” is simply the best version of the Fenton Robinson song since a young Duane Allman joined Boz Scaggs in the Muscle Shoals studio May 5, 1969. Now that is a testimonial in itself! Bouncing right back with an up tempo number, Ken “Stringbean” Sorensen blows harp to open track four, “Godfather of the Blues.” The original song is a Castiglia tribute to his mentor, Junior Wells, for whom Albert played guitar and sang for two years, 1997-1998, up until Wells’ death. Track five, the title track, is an acoustic change of pace. The mid-tempo ballad features more Sorensen harmonica and was written by Graham Wood Drout (of Iko Iko) who has contributed a song to each of Castiglia’s albums. Previously Drout contributed “Ghosts of Mississippi” and “Big Toe.” A cover of “Night Time Is The Right Time” has all the right ingredients to please, especially the background vocals of Sweet Suzi Smith and Nicole Hart. Bob Dylan’s ode to baseball pitcher Catfish Hunter (“Catfish”) is another slow blues performed so well that it is nearly as good as “Loan Me A Dime.” The rather pedestrian “Another Bloody Day” keeps the album from perfection, but the jumping, original “Twister” puts thing right back on top. The CD ends with the love-at-first-listen slide guitar found at the beginning on the band original “Blues For Evan.” Ending the CD up tempo with harmonica thrown into the 12 bar mix was a good move. Wake up world! His name is Albert Castiglia, and he is burning the planet down! The fire has begun down in his current region of Florida, but this CD will propel Albert to festival stages galaxy-wide!

Albert Castiglia sings the blues, leads the good life

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/events/sfl-mucastigliasbmar26,0,7416431.story BY DEBORAH RAMÍREZ | South Florida Sun-Sentinel March 26, 2008 As a bluesman, Albert Castiglia spreads more joy than he ever did as a social worker. He is reminded of this every time he sings about bad love, hard times and overcoming adversity — and watches the audience's reaction. Diners stop eating and conversations end. Fans gather around the band area and dancers start to boogie. The crowd responds to his jokes and the love fest continues until the wee hours. Albert will play Saturday night at The Back Room "I make people happier playing the blues than I did handing out welfare checks," said Castiglia on a recent Saturday night at the Downtowner in Fort Lauderdale Is your Fort Lauderdale restaurant clean? - Click Here.. Related links * THE BEAT: The South Florida music scene The 38-year-old blues-rock guitarist and singer was a caseworker when he first heard the calling to become a full-time musician. That happened on New Year's Eve 1996 when Castiglia, then 26, got a chance to play with Chicago blues legend Junior Wells, one of Muddy Waters' original harmonica players. The moment sealed his fate. Today Castiglia is about to release his fourth CD, These are the Days, as he struggles to take his music to a wider audience. Already he's developed a following on South Florida's blues-rock circuit. "I want to expand and get my music out to more people," said Castiglia, who lives in Wilton Manors with his wife, Michelle. "The money will come, but I think it's more important to touch people." The blues first touched Castiglia as a shy teenager who preferred playing the guitar to socializing with friends. Eric Clapton's Just One Night turned him on to the blues and led him to a new idol: Muddy Waters. "I don't know why a white kid from a middle-class family would feel a connection to the blues, but I did," said Castiglia, who grew up in Coral Gables, the son of an Italian-American banker and a Cuban philanthropist mother. "I was a loner, so maybe that's why I liked the blues so much, because the message is about rising up from your loneliness." Throughout the '90s, Castiglia played with a local band while he worked for the then-Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. His life changed after meeting Gloria Pierce, a part-time music promoter from Chicago. "Back then, most musicians here sounded the same. But Albert was different," Pierce said. "There was a real quality in the way he played." Pierce was so impressed that she called Wells, an old friend, and asked that he allow Castiglia to sit in with his band during a 1996 New Year's Eve show in Delray Beach. A nervous Castiglia waited outside the club as Wells arrived that night, wearing his trademark derby hat. "I said, 'Hi, Mr. Wells, I'm Albert and I just want you to know that you have been a big inspiration to me,'" Castiglia recalled. "And he said, 'Don't call me Mister...'" Castiglia played three songs that night, and in February 1997 Wells invited him on a weeklong tour. A month later, when a spot opened in the band, Castiglia said goodbye to social work and moved to Chicago to become Wells' lead guitarist. After Wells died in January 1998, Castiglia stayed in Chicago as a backup musician until 2001. He returned to South Florida to write songs, record and form his own band. Today, he credits his Memphis-born mentor with teaching him to bond with an audience. "Junior had this way of making his audience feel like they knew him," Castiglia said. "His example helped me come out of my shell and become friends with my fans." Deborah Ramírez is editor of el Sentinel. She can be reached at dpramirez@elsentinel.com or 954-356- 7965.

CD Review - These Are The Days - Lee Zimmerman

http://rss.miaminewtimes.com/2008-03-13/music/albert-castiglia&page=1 Albert Castiglia These Are the Days (Blues Leaf Records) By Lee Zimmerman Published on March 12, 2008 at 8:22am The Bonzo Dog Band, an eccentric Sixties British group with a penchant for silliness and satire, once released a song whose title begged the theoretical question, "Can blue men sing the whites?" That is, of course, a twist on the age-old argument about whether white musicians, who never experienced the prejudice and degradation that birthed the blues, could roll out those riffs with any degree of credibility. Modern masters like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Duane Allman certainly suggest they can, but the debate is a worthy one regardless. * Subject(s): Albert Castiglia, These Are the Days, Miami local music Another individual who affirms that ability is Miami's Albert Castiglia. Castiglia, who apprenticed under greats such as Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, Ronnie Earl, and Jerry Portnoy, has emerged as a singular presence on the local scene, a standout showman and exceptional guitarist in an environment where over-age cover bands remain the norm. His live performances are events in themselves, thanks to Castiglia's penchant for tossing off stirring solos while strolling off the stage and wandering out on the sidewalk, losing sight of his band but never the music at hand. Fortunately Castiglia has no problem translating his talents to disc, and his third album, These Are the Days, is further proof. Like its predecessors, it provides a worthy platform for his searing vocals, which are authoritative beyond his relatively modest years, as well as his extraordinary performing prowess. Castiglia contributes five originals to the mix, including the ominous opener "Bad Year Blues" ("Been a real bad year/Only 12 more months to go...."). Meanwhile, longtime colleague Graham Wood Drout, of South Florida's other blues institution Iko-Iko, loans the title track, a backwoods ballad that allows Castiglia to stretch his melodic parameters. A take on Bob Dylan's otherwise obscure "Catfish" seems the least likely choice (the title refers to legendary baseball pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter), but a good stock of standards ("Night Time Is the Right Time," "Need Your Love So Bad," "He's Got the Whiskey," "Loan Me a Dime") maintains some consistency. No real revelations there, but his exceptional solos, sizzling slide guitar, and firebrand execution reflect the thrill of his live sets and make These Are the Days a memorable statement.

Audio Interview With Albert - On Demand

http://a1artistspotlight.com/2008/08/21/049-albert-castiglia-these-are-the-days/ A1 Artist Spotlight.Com did a phone interview Albert Castiglia about his new CD These are the Days. Listen to the Podcast with the interview and music of Albert Castiglia. His songs “Bad Year Blues” and “Godfather of the Blues” should be on major rotation on any blues station.

CD Review - These Are The Days - Ben Cox

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/09/24/203929.php Music Review: Albert Castiglia - These Are the Days Written by Ben Cox Published September 24, 2008

CD Review - These Are The Days - Sunday Night Blues Project

http://sundaynightbluesproject.blogspot.com/2008/03/review-albert-castiglias-these-are-days.html Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Review: Albert Castiglia's "These Are The Days" This cd will not be available until April 1st, but I've just got to tell you--make plans now to buy it. It's that good! Albert Castiglia (pronounced "Cas-steeel-lia") and band bring forth a well-done electric blues set on this, their third cd. Everything here is terrific. On every song Castiglia wrings every ounce out of great lyrics and brings his guitar passion front and center. The band consists of Albert Castiglia on guitar and lead vocals, Susan Lusher on keyboards, Steve Gaskell on bass and Bob Amsel on drums. Kenny "Stringbean" Sorenson adds smoking great harmonica on tracks 4, 5 and 11. Rio Clemente adds a churchy organ to track 9, and Sweet Suzi Smith & Nicole Hart add great soulful backing vocals on "Night Time Is The Right Time." Things kick off with the humorous original "Bad Year Blues" and then comes Robert Guidrey's "He's Got All The Whiskey," a lament of loss on several levels, and then a fiery "Loan Me A Dime," the Fenton Robinson song you may remember from the Boz Scaggs version with the Muscle Shoals House Band and Duane Allman from Boz Scaggs' self-titled debut album. Castiglia doesn't quite reach those esteemed heights here, but he doesn't get embarrassed by the comparison either. There is a loving original tribute to his late mentor, Junior Wells, on "Godfather of the Blues," and then the centerpiece of the cd--three great tunes done absolutely great--"Celebration" by Graham Wood Drout, "Night Time Is The Right Time" and Bob Dylan's "Catfish." The guitar solo on "Catfish" is, all by itself, a sign of Albert's promise of a bright future. And things don't drop off after that--there are a couple more Castiglia originals, ("Another Bloody Day" and "Twister") the wonderful "Need Your Love So Bad" and the cd wraps up with "Blues For Evan," an impressive instrumental that features Stringbean and Albert trading licks like they've played together forever. I've been listening to Albert play and grow and develop for years now, and this is the cd I've been waiting for. It should catapult Albert Castiglia to the top rank of blues artists. Posted by Bruce at 7:41 PM

CD Review - These Are The Days - Pete Lauro

http://www.mary4music.com/CD44.html Albert Castiglia (Pronounced Ka-STEEL-Ya) "These Are The Days" Blues Leaf Records BY PETER "BLEWZZMAN" LAURO, © June 2008 Writing the liner notes for this disc, BOB PORTER claims that "Albert's own singing and playing are the equal of many performers who are better known at this stage. This is his time and "THESE ARE THE DAYS" is the album that will move him to the next level". I could not agree more with BOB. As a matter of fact, that quote, coming from me, may have referred to ALBERT as being better than many of those better know performers and if this disc doesn't propel him into the mainstream of the blues community it will be an outright shame. Since his earlier years touring as JUNIOR WELLS' and SANDRA HALL'S guitarist, "THESE ARE THE DAYS" is ALBERT CASTIGLIA'S third release as a bandleader. Backing him, on guitar and vocals, are his regular South Florida band members: STEVE GASKELL on bass, SUSAN LUSHER on keyboards and BOB AMSEL on drums. Special guests include: KEN "STRINGBEAN" SORENSON on harmonica, RIO CLEMENTE on Organ, and "SWEET" SUZI SMITH and NICOLE HART on background vocals. "THESE ARE THE DAYS" opens with a very clever original - "BAD YEAR BLUES". Sadly, the song could be true - not just for ALBERT - but the rest of us as well. Since it all hit the fan in January, ALBERT claims that "It's been a real bad year, only twelve more months to go". And as he tells of his mounting shortcomings, it certainly sounds as if it is going to be a real bad year. The track is performed as well as it was written. With the rhythm guys in a zone, SUSAN beatin' up the piano and ALBERT vocally making the lyrics sound too real, this is one of the discs best. With the rest of the band very 'lively' behind him, "HE'S GOT ALL THE WHISKEY" is a forum for ALBERT'S stunning guitar abilities. Throughout this one his rhythm and lead guitar riffs are routinely amazing. ALBERT sings his heart out on a slow blues ballad titled "LOAN ME A DIME". This is my kinda stuff - serious, low down blues with some serious low down blues guitar playing. With the band in a mellow groove behind him, this one is all about ALBERT and his emotions - vocally and musically. Another of the discs best. "GODFATHER OF THE BLUES", a song which ALBERT wrote about his former boss - MR. JUNIOR WELLS, is a toe tappin', knee slappin' rocker. If this one don't get you shakin' then you gotta be achin'. Of course, a song about JUNIOR wouldn't do him justice without a harp, and on this one KEN "STRINGBEAN" SORENSON certainly does JUNIOR - and the harp - justice. More good stuff here. If this disc was an LP, with the amount of times I replayed "NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME", my needle would have worn through the wax by now. This version of this song is absolutely phenomenal. With BOB and STEVE setting just the right pace, ALBERT is at discs best on guitar and SUSAN may very well be at career best on the piano. On top of that, "SWEET" SUZY and NICOLE HART are as fabulous as the 'Rayette's' ever were. I can't begin to say enough about this track. Although this is certainly not a complaint, it is however this writer's opinion that "NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD" is one of the kind of songs that ALBERT just doesn't do enough of. He's got such a perfect voice for these slow ballads and his slow, burning guitar notes are some of the best - as this track will reveal. Nice steady background organ by RIO help highlight this one. If you want to do yourself a favor - and I mean a really big favor - take yourself over to www.albertcastiglia.com and get yourself a copy of "THESE ARE THE DAYS". I promise you you'll agree with BOB PORTER and the BLEWZZMAN. And don't forget to tell ALBERT KA-STEEL-YA that his buddy PETE sent ya. Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com

CD Review - These Are The Days - Blues Critic

Albert Castiglia "These Are The Days" (***). Album number three keeps Castiglia in comfortable electric Blues shoes on a set of originals and covers. "Bad Year Blues" is a prime example of a modern Contemporary Blues song. A raspy/nasally vocal, tight 12-bar rhythm and humorous lyrics. "My New Year's Resolution didn't last too long/Tried to quit smoking but too many things went wrong/It's been a really bad year/Only 12 more months to go". It's from Castiglia's pen as is the heavy rollin' tribute to his mentor Junior Wells, "Godfather Of The Blues". Master songwriter Graham Wood Drout (writer of Blues Song Of The Year In Of 2005 "The Ghosts Of Mississippi") contributes the album's centerpiece "Celebration", an acoustic Rock song John Mellencamp's been trying to write since his hitmaking days. In fact, somebody needs to send this to the former Johnny Cougar! But Albert does the song just fine on his own anyway. Other Castiglia originals include the anti-war "Another Bloody Day", the N'Awlins piano cut "Twister" and the instrumental "Blues For Evan". Of the covers there's a brilliant take on Bob Dylan's "Catfish" where Castiglia squeezes out one of his best guitar solos on record. Robert Guidry's "He's Got All The Whisky" hits it's mark and the Fenton Robinson's classic "Somebody Loan Me A Dime" is rearranged into a moody slow Blues number augmented by chilly organ. This is how to cover a song- interpret it not copy it. "Days" is another satisfying set from the underrated Castiglia.

Blues Critic Awards 2008 READERS POLL

http://bluescritic.com/2008bluescriticawards.htm Awards 2008 Blues Critic Awards 2008 READERS POLL Contemporary Blues Winners! As voted by Blues Critic readers Blues Song Of The Year Albert Castiglia "Bad Year Blues" (Blues Leaf Records) Other nominees: "Blues Rolls On" by Elvin Bishop (runner up), "Obama" by Chick Willis, "Goodbye Mr. President" by Mem Shannon, "Let Life Flow" by Kenny Neal, "They Called For Stormy Monday" by Tom Principato Band, "How I Got To Memphis" by Dave Specter with Tad Robinson, "Mississippi Number 1" by Eden Brent, "Red Cadillac" by Johnny Rawls