Blues guitarist Albert Castiglia paid his dues by backing blues legends like Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, and Otis Clay. He’s also won numerous awards, including Blues Rock Album of the Year. Music journalist Steve Roby got this exclusive interview for KGNU Radio.
Albert Castiglia is here to discuss his music and upcoming show at the Oriental Theatre on January 28th.
Hello, Albert; it’s great to have you with us on KGNU.
Thanks, Steve. It’s great to be here.
Let’s start with your background. Who were some of your early musical influences and mentors?
Like any other middle-class white kid, my early influences would be the classic rockers of the day, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and The Stones. Z.Z. Top, and Aerosmith. I was not exposed to blues music until my teenage years, and once I got a bit by it, that was all over. I started to get into B.B. King, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters, John Mayall… Eric Clapton was probably my biggest early influence because he was so blues-based. I got into the blues because of Clapton. I bought a live recording of his called Just One Night. A great deal of that material was blues covers, and it grabbed my attention, piqued my interest, and made me want to delve deeper into the blues. And I started buying the original versions and the songs, and I was like, this is so right. Then I bought a Muddy Waters album when I was 15 or 16. Wow! It was the only album available on cassette in music store. And the first thing you hear when you play that cassette is Muddy’s booming voice. The first time I heard that voice, I hid under the bed. It was so scary. It was amazing, haunting, and even fresher to me than any of the stuff that was coming out then.
Well, can you tell us about your connection with the band The Blood Brothers?
Well, that project was masterminded by my partner, Mike Zito. He and I always jammed together. We’ve known each other for nearly 15 years, and we’ve always jammed with each other while we were in each other’s towns. And when we were around each other, our paths would cross on the road. Those kinds of things were well received. , these jams, these impromptu jams. And Mike decided we should probably profit from this and make some money off it. So, after the lockdown, I guess it was 2021. I had gotten COVID in January, and I was in a really bad place. It was long COVID. I got the symptoms, and I was in a bad state for six months, and I was depressed. And during that period, Mike reached out to me and said, “Hey, let’s go do some shows together.” And so, we did a three-night run with him and Joanna Conner in the Midwest and did a Chuck Berry tribute. Oh, many tours that went extremely well to the point where it grabbed the attention of Roger’s neighbor at the legendary Rhythm and Blues. Right after we did those dates, Roger asked us to fill in for Walter Trout on the phone rings because Walter had already committed to an East European tour. So, they brought us in, and that went extremely well. And so, the first year we did it, we toured. We didn’t have original material, so we just did covers of blues and blues, rock songs, and rock songs that we grew up listening to all our kids and did that and added our solo material and originals in it in late ‘22; we recorded the album.
I understand you’ll be recording a new album this year. What’s in the works?
Well, I just recorded a solo album. I went to Kid Andersen’s studio in San Jose, California. Kid Andersen, the guitar player for the Erik Estrada and the Nightcats and amazing producer, and I went out there in December, laid down ten tracks, 10 or 11 tracks, and it should be out in June. This is the Blood Brothers hiatus period. We’ve been on the road for two years straight. We rarely played with our bands for the last couple of years. So, they want to kill the golden goose. So, we’re taking this year off to work with our bands and put out our albums. Mike has an album coming out in February, mine comes out in June, and we’re going to do our own thing, maybe do sporadic Blood Brothers dates this year, and then go back out next year. The concept is we’re going to make it a special guest style. I have a lot of very talented and successful friends, much more talented and successful than I am. And I will find out how good friends they are and see if they’ll accept my invitation to play on my album. So, we’re going to reach out to them. If it goes as planned, it will be an impressive list of guests and friends, and my daughter will be on it. Extra special! It won’t bother me if none of my friends play on this record. But if my daughter had ever declined to play on it, I would have been very upset.
Let’s give a shout-out to your daughter. What’s your daughter’s name?
Her name is Rain.
Let’s discuss your concert on January 28th with The Delta Sonics at the Oriental Theater in Denver. What can fans look forward to?
It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a rockin’ show. The edge to my blues style probably comes from listening to rock and roll growing up. And there’s a little bit of an edge to what I do. But it’s going to be a very high-energy show. It’s kind of how I am. I have this frenetic energy that exists in me, and it never really goes away. It never subsides. I go out there, and I give it everything I’ve got.
Let’s remind our listeners that Albert Castiglia and special guests The Delta Sonics will play at the Oriental Theater on Sunday, January 28th. Showtime is at 8 p.m., and doors open at seven. For tickets and more info, please visit the Oriental Theatre website.
Before I let you go. Albert, where’s the best place I can send our listeners to find your music?
Well, I have a website with links to my merchandise, show dates, schedule, sound clips, and everything else.
Albert. It’s been a great pleasure. Thanks for stopping by KGNU today. We look forward to your upcoming show at The Oriental.
My pleasure. Thank you.
This interview transcript has been edited for continuity and clarity.
Courtesy photos were provided.
About the author: From the San Francisco Bay Area to the Big Island of Hawaii, Steve Roby has worked as a journalist, entertainment photographer, magazine editor, radio host (San Francisco, Hawaii, and Denver), and video documentarian. Since 1989, he has been writing about music and interviewing musicians. Roby is also a published author of three books, one on the L.A. Times Non-Fiction Hardcover Best Seller List.