“Castro is one of the brightest stars in the blues-soul genre. Voracious blues energy and ultimate soul power…impassioned vocals and pure inventiveness in his stellar guitar solos.” – Blues Music Magazine
“Soul-baring, roadhouse-meets-church, Memphis guitar licks…gritty voice…Southern colors and rootsy textures.” – Washington Post
Billboard says the band plays “irresistible contemporary blues-rock” with “street-level grit and soul.”
The staggering number of shows the band has performed together is well over 6000, including 3 seasons as the house band for HBO productions “Comedy Showcase”, two summer-long tours with BB King and Buddy Guy, 40 music cruises (including 33 consecutive sold-out Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruises), and many of the largest music festivals worldwide. The band’s collaborations have included John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Bob Weir, Gregg Allman, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Magic Dick of The J. Geils Band, Taj Mahal and Los Lobos.
Castro started the group after he and McDonald met in the Warner Brothers recording act the Dynatones in 1990; then in 1992, the two got together to officially form The Tommy Castro Band. With attention to the boundaries of American roots music, the group began developing their signature raw and driven sound. Castro immediately gained the attention of the Bay Area Music Scene, winning several local music awards before embarking on a relenting worldwide foray.
The band’s lineup has changed over its 3-decade span, as has its name, adding “The Painkillers” to the billing after a long-time fan pronounced the band’s music as her “painkiller.” The moniker inspired Tommy, and he immediately penned the song that became the title track of the Painkiller Album and eventually the band’s new name. McDonald, along with drummer Bowen Brown and keyboardist Michael Emerson, in the current lineup, have now been playing together for seven years. 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.