Wild and Free
Gulf Coast Records
A young Albert Castiglia served his apprenticeship as guitarist in both the Junior Wells and Sandra Hall bands before embarking on his own solo career. He released his solo debut in 2004. In 2006 he signed with Blues Leaf Records and released four albums the last being 2012’s “Living The Dream”. He switched labels and recorded four more albums for Ruf Records, before signing with Gulf Coast Records in 2019.
The Florida based Castiglia is at his best in front of a live audience and such was the case when he recorded “Wild and Free”, to a hometown crowd at The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, on January 3rd and 4th 2020. The band on that night included Castiglia, guitar and vocals; Lewis Stephens, organ and piano; Justine Tompkins, bass and vocals; and Ephraim Lowell, drums. Like most live recordings the album also serves as a retrospective documenting the part of his career beginning in 2012.
His early experiences had helped Castiglia become a skilled songwriter, and he received his first Blues Music Award nomination for “Song of the Year” for “Bad Year Blues” the lead track off his 2008 Blues Leaf album “These Are the Days”. He is also known as a guitarist who combines traditional blues stylings with his own modern Blues rock. This is the case on his interpretation of Paul Butterfields “Lovin’ Cup” first released on an Elektra Records compilation in 1966; and reprised from his “Living The Dream” with John Ginty added in on the B-3. From the 2014 album “Solid Ground” Castiglia includes Graham Wood Drout’s “Searching The Desert for The Blues”.
Castiglia’s grit was fully realized when he released his “Big Dog” album in 2016. From that album are both the title track “Let The Big Dog Eat” written by Bill Wharton, and the road worthy original “Get Your Ass in The Van”. The results were BMA nominations for both “Blues Rock Album” and “Contemporary Blues Male Artist”.
Two songs are revisited from Castiglia’s 2017 “Up All Night” album, the title track written by Brian Stoltz, and Mike Zito’s “Hoodoo On Me”. At the same time, he signed with Zito’s new Gulf Coast Records Castiglia discovered he had additional family, an adult daughter and two grandchildren, and newly inspired, he had a brain spasm resulting in a flurry of new songwriting. From his latest studio recording “Masterpiece” are three more originals: “I Tried to Tell Ya”; “Heavy” inspired by people who feel under-appreciated, and “Keep On Swinging” a message to remind our youth that they can accomplish anything they set their hearts and minds to do. These emotionally raw songs have just garnered Castiglia two additional 2020 BMA nominations in the categories “Blues Rock Album of the Year” and “Blues Rock Artist of the Year”. Also reprised from “Masterpiece” is Johnny Winter’s “Too Much Seconal” with both Zito added on guitar, and Ginty on the B-3. Castiglia closes with the Freddie King classic “Boogie Funk”.
In the Blues world there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. It takes a hard work ethic and grit. Castiglia has both and they can be heard in every note played that night at The Biscuit. Were fortunate to have this set to listen to as we enter a new period of uncertainty. We’re hoping that he and others like him can help lead us through the darkness. Thank you Albert.