Bringing back blues basics: Castro & The Painkillers play Harrah’s on Oct. 1 |

Bringing back blues basics: Castro & The Painkillers play Harrah’s on Oct. 1

Autumn Whitney
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers headline Harrah's Lake Tahoe on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Courtesy / Victoria Smith |

Get ready for an evening of blues-rock this weekend as six-time Blues Music Award winner Tommy Castro jams in the South Shore Room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe alongside his band The Painkillers.

“We play that room once a year maybe. It works well for live music and it’s one of those places where you get to stay and play — you just hang out and enjoy the whole experience.

“We try to make a special event out of it,” Castro said.

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers’ latest album, “Method to My Madness,” released in October 2015. While Castro fans will recognize the same soul behind much of The Painkillers’ work, the infamous horn section is not prevalent. With his newest release, the artist went back to the basics to create a more guitar-focused set.

“I like to make a different kind of record every time. So in order to explain the inspiration for this record, you have to think about the one I did last time, which was ‘The Devil You Know.’ That was a big production and I had several special guests. It was a very big project.

“The new album, ‘Method to My Madness,’ I wanted to do the exact opposite of that. I wanted to make it very live, no special guests, just me and my three guys playing live in the studio the latest batch of songs that I had written or co-written — organic and real as possible,” Castro said.

But at the same time, Castro recognizes the connection many of his fans have with the brass sound that commonly accompanies the group’s sound.

“We hear from fans, ‘We miss the horns,’ and I understand that because I enjoyed it, too. I understand that people miss that sound,” Castro said.

For a portion of the Stateline concert, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers will bring out the horn section for a limited time.

“Our sound still is very identifiable — the kind of songs I write, the way I sing and play, the style of the band hasn’t changed so much. Let’s say you were a fan before, you would still enjoy the show with what we’re doing with our new material. At the same time, a lot of people miss the horns and I totally get that, which is why we bring them out on special occasions,” he added.

Castro is joined by The Painkillers, which includes bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Mike Emerson and drummer Bowen Brown. All have made music since a young age and toured extensively with renowned blues musicians.

“It’s a tight band — we play well together musically and personally. They’re pros that really know how to do this and have fun while they’re doing it,” Castro said.

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers has been together since 2012.

The show begins in Stateline at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. Tickets, which begin at $29.35 plus tax and fees, are available online at

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