Tommy Castro and Wayne Baker Brooks Headling Big Weekend for Tri-City Blues

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music,   From Issue 620   By: Scott Baker

17th August, 2006     0

Hot August blues have never been cooler than the coming weeks here in the Tri-cities.

Kicking off a full week in the state is the Bay Area blues and soul master, Tommy Castro, who is making his return to Frankenmuth on Friday, August 25, at Sullivan's Black Forest Brew Haus

This marks Castro's first trip back since his incredible show opening for Dr. John at the Frankenmuth Blues Bash on the Cass last year.

The Silver Palace Music Festival fires up a second year in Essexville the very next day on Saturday, August 26, at the Silver Palace on Woodside in Essexville. This year's feature is the son of legendary blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks and the brother of guitar great Ronnie Baker Brooks, Wayne Baker Brooks. Wayne brings a different type of blues-rock than both his father and his brother, with a more groove oriented style of blues, steeped in tradition, soul, funk, and jamming.

Wayne Baker Brooks set is sandwiched in Essexville between local legend opener Larry McCray and headliner Carl Weathersby, both of whom are returning to the Silver Palace after amazing shows there during the past winter.

Rounding out the musical weekend is the Saginaw-Bay Area Blues Society's 4th Annual Blues Cruise on the Princess Wenonah, Sunday, August 27. The featured artist this year is Root Doctor out of Lansing along with the third straight appearance from show-stoppers Big Foot Bob & The Toe Tappers.

The Review caught up with Tommy Castro two weeks ago during a short break between exclusive festival dates this year.

"We're all over the state of Michigan since we started doing this," said Castro regarding his love for Michigan. "When we started leaving San Francisco and started going on the road supporting our first record, we came through different parts of Michigan. The first place might have been Taylor. We used to play Siskos and the Taylor Blues Fest, the Kalamazoo Blues Festival, and ever since then we've been doing the Kalamazoo State Theatre Blues Series and Blues on the Mall in Grand Rapids. Then last year, of course, we did the Frankenmuth Festival. We've always had a great audience there in the State of Michigan, wherever we go, it just seems to be a nice fit, the kind of music that we do. Must be the water! We like playing there a lot. We enjoy the audience there and it seems they enjoy us."

His return to Frankenmuth on the 25th is a treat for the guitarist.

"That was a cool little town," he said. "I had never been there before and it was real interesting with all the old German history there and stuff like that. I guess they get a lot of tourists coming through there."

Releasing the excellent Soul Shaker CD last year following his first ever DVD release, Castro believes Michigan's music history helps make it one of his favorite states to perform in.

"There's a lot of things that I think make sense to me about us and Michigan. For instance, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, I mean, there's a band that did a combination of rock and soul and it's really a similar place that we come from. It's a sound that combines a different kind of rhythm and blues that has always been really popular in the state. Guys like Bob Seger, there's another kind of similarity in the sound with the stuff that we do and the kind of stuff that Bob did. And just by coincidence that we all have this love for soul music and blues and were raised on rock 'n roll. I think all of those things combine and that's why we've always had a good relationship with the people in the state of Michigan."

This is the first year in his 15 solo years that Castro has changed his summer tour regime.

"Really we haven't been out touring actual tours much this summer," he said. "We've been going out and playing a lot of festivals. We've been flying out and maybe doing a couple of dates in that area as opposed to trying to connect dots around the country. Just as a different way of doing it for a change. We decided this summer we would spend a little bit of time at home and just go out to the festivals. Of course this opportunity in Michigan came up and we thought, 'Okay, we'll take that little swing.' This has really been the first time in 15 years that we've ever done that and it's worked out really well."

This fall Castro is looking forward to topping last years CD, having all of his current inspirations, which he jots down on everything from his laptop and napkins to his answering machine, put together in motion for a new album.

"We're working on songs right now. I'm in the middle of just feverously working on material, trying to get up to speed with the band. We’re going in the studio in September and we're making the record with a really, really good producer for this kind of music. A guy named John Porter, he's going to produce our next record and we're all excited about that."

"Usually the ideas come to you when they want to, not when you want them to. We worked really hard on the last one. We took a break from all of that creative stuff for a while, because after you make a record like that you really got to take a break."

Wayne Baker Brooks drives his own musical vehicle.

Knowing all to well about family and friends, Wayne focuses on his own individual style which has taken him to jam with the greats; Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Otis Rush, and not to mention his father Lonnie, among many others.

Unlike his father or even his brother Ronnie, Wayne brings soul and groove to the mix in the form of rock, R&B and funk, with a modern taste for blues. Not forgetting heaping guitar tone with tasty fills, Brooks released Mystery in 2003 and hasn't stopped to smell the roses yet.

Wayne headlined the Chicago Blues Festival in 2004 and has co-authored the book Blues For Dummies for the famous educational series.

Root Doctor and Big Foot Bob & The Toe Tappers come from Lansing and surrounding areas. Performing on the Princes Wenonah for the first time together, the Saginaw-Bay Area Blues Society is preparing for another sell out. The 200 available tickets are already selling quickly and the event is $40. The boat boards between 2-3 p.m. on Sunday the 27. You can call S.B.A.B.S. Chairman Jim Zimmerman for more info and tickets at 989-797-3923.

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