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Albert Castiglia - Living the Dream

Muddy Kid Music

12 songs; 55:53 minutes

Styles: Modern Electric Blues and Blues Rock

Floridian Albert Castiglia’s tunes are on the “rock” side of blues rock. Nevertheless, he’s “Living the Dream” of musicians: to make a living pursuing his passion! According to the bio on his website, Castiglia’s (pronounced “ka-STEEL- ya”) history is as colorful as his hometown of Miami. In 1990, he played for The Miami Blues Authority, winning awards locally for “Best Blues Guitarist.” He got a big break after meeting the legendary Junior Wells in 1996, and became his last lead guitar player before Wells died in 1998. Albert toured the U.S. and Europe with Junior and then found himself in Chicago when Junior passed. However, he soon returned to southern Florida after deciding to launch his solo career with “Burn” in 2002. His latest album, number six, is evidence of the success of his ventures sans Wells, and here are three songs out of twelve (five originals and seven covers) that prove it:

Track 02: “The Man”--In this blistering ballad, Albert’s not naming any names, yet still calls out “the man” in the abstract (i.e., people in power): “Handful of suits thought they’d have some fun--held up the country without a gun. Handful of suits should be sitting in the can, but no one’s getting nowhere but The Man!” Guest star Emedin Rivera’s rat-a-tat percussion and cymbals keep this song’s danceable beat rolling.

Track 05: “Sometimes You Win”--“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t win. Sometimes you’re lucky; sometimes you lose….” Albert knows that the recreational activity called ‘gaming’ can exact a brutal price. On this cover of Graham Wood Drout’s masterful ballad, chronicling a hustler‘s rise and fall, his acoustic guitar is relentless. It drives its refrains into listeners’ ears without mercy. “Sometimes You Win” is almost eerie in its message and melody, especially on the poignant instrumental solo in the middle.

Track 09: “I Want Her for Myself”--Our narrator wants the exclusive attention of his girl, yet it’s doubtful whether he’ll get it: “She got lovers like fish in the sea, and one of them fishes is poor old me. My baby does me fine, she loves somebody else--I ain’t complaining. I just want her for myself!” Sandy Mack’s harmonica and Juke Joint Jonny Rizzo’s acoustic slide guitar are both fantastic here.

Even though non-blues rock blues purists may be skeptical of this album, Castiglia’s bold style, witty lyrics, and fiery riffs compensate for a lack of traditional sound on certain tracks. Regular bandmates Bob Amsel and A.J. Kelly co-perform with Castiglia on drums and bass, respectively. Also, check out John Ginty’s piano and B3, livening up the score on such tracks as “Fat Cat.” One thing’s for sure: Albert’s “Living the Dream,” and his rising star is inspiring countless other blues artists to reach for theirs!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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