A Bluesman Came To Town
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers live @ Yard Club
Words & photos: Vincent Abbate
A bluesman came to town.
I’m surely not the first concert reviewer to use that title since the album of the same name – which Tommy Castro likens to a rock opera, only it’s blues – swept away the competition at this year’s Blues Music Awards ceremony in Memphis. Local fans had waited over three years for this particular visit by Castro and his band The Painkillers. And there was more than enough cause for celebration on both sides, as this Wednesday evening club show coincided with even more accolades from the US: Readers of Blues Blast Magazine had just dubbed The Painkillers Band of the Year.
The chance to see this band on a small stage in a half-full club is something I don’t take for granted. Castro isn’t the star in Germany that he is back home. This is his third appearance at the Yard Club in the past five years. And the audience hasn’t grown. In fact, we’re still living through some kind of weird post-pandemic trauma that is depressing ticket sales most everywhere you turn.
But as they say in the local dialect: Es et wie es et. It is as it is. So my attitude as Castro and his crew launched into “You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” at around 8 p.m. was to simply enjoy the show. To soak it all in. Wasn’t too long ago we couldn’t do this kind of thing. How quickly we forget.