• Big Dog

    bigdogcoverBig Dog
    Albert Castiglia
    Label: Ruf Records
    Released: May 20, 2016

    If Boomerocity is counting correctly, Big Dog is the ninth release by blues great, Albert Castiglia. Boomerocity became a fan after seeing him work with another blues great, Alexis P. Suter.

    After five acclaimed albums and decades of blazing blues-rock shows, you might argue that you’ve already made his acquaintance. But by the Florida bandleader’s own admission, Big Dog is the first release to truly get under his skin. “I just wanted to make a record that best represented who I am, as a musician, singer, guitarist and live artist,” explains Albert. “With every release, I’ve come close, but this time, producer Mike Zito helped me nail it. He and label boss Thomas Ruf wanted me to make a raw, rocking blues record. That’s what I’m about- that’s who I am.”

    At 46, he’s slugged his way into contention the old-fashioned way: writing from his heart, bleeding into his performances, eating up the road. “I have no illusions about what kind of guitar player and singer I am,” he states. “My style is raw, unadulterated, crude and heavy. I don’t have the technical proficiency of other players, but I play what’s in my heart and what I feel at that moment. When I write songs, they have to mean something.”

    Recorded at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, there’s not an ounce of fat on Big Dog’s eleven tracks, with Albert darting between self-penned originals, cherished covers and co-writes with some of his closest compadres. “You could smell the mojo in the sweet Southern air,” reflects Albert, “and you could feel the mojo in the recording studio. We had a studio-savvy band with an incredible amount of soul, and Mike’s role as producer was the wildcard.”

    Albert describes Big Dog as a “driving along the highway with the top down kind of record”, and “Let The Big Dog Eat” sets the pace (complete with breakneck riffing and improvised barks). Other foot-down cuts include the call-and-response “Don’t Let Them Fool Ya”, the searing “Where The Devil Makes His Deals” (written with Graham Wood Drout) and the observational wit of “Get Your Ass In The Van”. “That song was a response to all the poor, pampered souls,” grins Albert, “who think that music is one big American Idol episode.”

    Some songs cut deeper. Co-written with label mate and Royal Southern Brotherhood’s Cyril Neville “Somehow” addresses the plight of the homeless and displaced in modern America. “The poor are commonly used as tag lines in speeches by politicians seeking public office,” points out Albert, “but when the cameras are off, they are often ignored and scorned. The song reflects a sadness, yet hopefulness, on how we as a society treat these people.”

    Another poignant moment is “Where Did I Go Wrong”. A soul-drenched slow-blues with harp from Johnny Sansone, it’s taken from the iconic Junior Wells’ You’re Tuff Enough album, and in many ways, brings Albert’s story full-circle. Born on August 12th, 1969, in New York – before moving to Florida aged five – Albert made his professional debut in 1990 with Miami Blues Authority, but truly hit the international radar after Wells invited the young bluesman into his solo band for several world tours. “It was an incredible adventure,” remembers Albert. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Chicago bluesman. Junior opened the door for me to do that. He recorded his last studio album, Come On In This House, at Dockside Studios. What a sign!”

    The gig was a shop-window, and though Wells died in 1998, there was no stopping Albert, whether he was joining the great Atlanta vocalist Sandra Hall for national tours in the late-’90s, or holding his own in onstage jams with everyone from Pinetop Perkins to John Primer. Nobody’s sideman, his own triumphant solo career began with 2002’s Burn, followed up by 2006’s A Stone’s Throw, 2010’s Keepin On and 2012’s Living The Dream.

    In 2014, Ruf debut Solid Ground was declared “smoldering and intense” by blues critics. Now, Big Dog ups the ante, offering eleven new songs to get your teeth into, and supported by a full international tour that promises bark and bite.

    If you thought you knew Albert Castiglia, you don’t know the half of it. “I think this album is a major game-changer for me,” he says. “No matter what happens after Big Dog’s release, I’ll always be proud of it. When we tour this album, you can expect a balls to the wall, rockin’ blues show. Expect to get what I’ve always given you – my 100%.”

  • Wild and Free

    wildandfreecoverWild and Free

    Albert Castiglia Band

    Label: Gulf Coast Records

    Release Date: April 3, 2020


    Boomerocity has been a big fan of Albert Castiglia and his band for several years now. To watch him/them perform – as I did in a small club in Maryville, Tennessee, a few years ago was an exceptional treat. Equally exceptional treats are whenever he and the band put out a new album.

    Now is such a time.

    Albert has a new disc, Wild and Free, and it’s live, to boot. It was recorded in Boca Raton, Florida, at The Funky Biscuit. The album captures the energy and guitar mastery that I witnessed Castiglia share those years ago in Maryville . . . except this time he’s with special guests Mike Zito, John Ginty, and Lewis Stephens. Clearly, this is THE live album Albert Castiglia fans have been waiting for!

    If you love the blues and, for some strange reason have never heard of Castiglia, then Wild and Free has everything blues fans are looking for: great songs...guitar virtuosity...and the raw power and emotion behind Castiglia's live performances.

    The album grabs you by the throat from the first cut (Big Dog) and shakes you by it through each of the eleven songs on the disc (ending with Boogie Funk). And grabbing is what you should do with this disc: Grab it by ordering it on this page.

    Oh, for those of you uninitiated on Albert Castigilia, here’s a bit of background on him:

    Miami-raised musician served an apprenticeship while backing legendary blues musician, Junior Wells. He later went on to work with singer Sandra Hall. Never content to allow himself to be confined to any particular category, Castiglia embarked on a solo career that's yielded nine critically acclaimed albums and constant kudos for his exceptional instrumental prowess, searing vocals, and live performances that have dazzled audiences from coast to coast. It's little wonder that Miami's New Times lauded Albert as South Florida's "Best Blues Guitarist" or that USA Today was inspired to remark, it's a revelation to discover the thrilling retro electric-blues from this astonishing young guitarist."

    Bluesabout.com called Castiglia, "one of those mid-tier artists that is just one album away from breaking big and becoming a household word in the blues world." M Music & Musicians notes, "Castiglia's back-to-basics approach follows in the footsteps of those who fostered the blues in the Mississippi Delta and the smoky late-night haunts of Chicago."

    After the highly successful and critically acclaimed release of 2019's Masterpiece on Gulf Coast Records, Castiglia was nominated for two 2020 Blues Music Awards in the categories of "Blues Rock Album Of The Year" and "Blues Rock Artist."

    Wild and Free is a must-have blues album for your personal listening library. You can order it by clicking on the widget on the right or at AlbertCastiglia.net