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Tommy Castro rocks Folsom

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The bumper sticker read, “I’d rather be at a Tommy Castro Show,” and the crowd that filled Folsom’s Powerhouse Pub Saturday night agreed.

Ben and Robin Penn chose Castro over the lighted boat parade, and others chose the show over competing concerts and Sacramento’s Second Saturday events, braving the cold and the Santa Pub Crawlers to hear Castro and his band.

The band that performed Saturday night is not the same lineup fans will see in 2012, when Randy McDonald will replace Scot Sutherland on bass, Keith Crossan will take his sax skills elsewhere, as will Tom Poole and his horn and Tony Stead and his keyboards. Byron Cage will remain at drums.

Castro fans were clearly not disappointed when the band began playing just after 10 p.m. The crowd drew closer to the stage, filling the dance area from stage to bar. Personal space was not a concern.

“We love you!” came from all corners of the funky pub with guitars and dragonfly stained glass lights, masks and blacklight posters adorning ceiling and walls.

Castro opened the nearly hour-and-a-half-long first set with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” and the somebody being served Saturday was the crowd. Castro’s energy was high as he played the guitar and sang. It was clear why he’s referred to as a hard-working musician, performing 10 songs in the first set.

Tommy Castro

Several times throughout the evening, Castro asked the crowd to be more vocal and said, “I know just about everybody here.” The band has played the Powerhouse Pub many times, and Castro said in an earlier interview that it’s one of his favorite venues because of the crowd’s enthusiasm and energy.

Castro sang “Make it Back to Memphis” and performed a lengthy guitar solo, but he was not the only musician to be highlighted. Crossan was featured prominently with long sax solos on several songs.

One of the most soulful songs of the evening was “When My Left Eye Jumps” from the 2003 album “Gratitude.” It was a grittier, less rock ’n’ roll, piece that offered a pacing change midway through the extended first set.

It was also during this piece that Castro left the stage to meander through the audience, performing to a more intimate group. Fans invited him into their personal space, allowing him room to move and play, until he made his way back to the stage to finish the early set at nearly 11:30 p.m.

Tommy Castro playing in audience

Many attendees, like Andrea Rosen and Earl Withycombe, are members of the Blues Lovers of Sacramento, who arrange meetups in the Sacramento area. Others, like Kelly and Michael Irwin, are longtime Castro fans with a collection of CDs who have never seen him perform live or visited the Powerhouse Pub. Still others, like Ben and Robin Penn and Erik and Jayne Brenning, are longtime fans and followers of the band.

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