Albert Castiglia is back with a vengeance. He's got a new album, a new record label, and a new determination to build on the reputation that's made him one of South Florida's -- and for that matter, the nation's -- most distinctive blues performers. His performances are always entertaining, proof positive that for all the misery that genre often conveys, it can be celebratory as well.
Of course, that's something Castiglia knows all too well. Mentored by the legendary Junior Wells, he toured for several years alongside the iconic harp player right up until Wells' passing in 1998. He then joined forces with Atlanta singer Sandra Hall, even as he found himself increasingly drawn into the spotlight. Here at home, we at New Times lauded him as the area's best blues guitarist, a fact borne out by five previous albums and concerts that became singular events in themselves.
His latest album, Solid Ground, released last month on the acclaimed Ruf Records label -- home to several of today's top blues players -- represents a major leap in Castiglia's trajectory. "I feel it's my best work to date," Castiglia says proudly.
"It was recorded at Fat Rabbit Studios in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The studio's owner and producer of the record is Dave Gross, who's produced records for blues heavyweights like Debbie Davies, Bob Margolin, and Matt Hill."
Castiglia claims that this time around, he took extra care in both the preproduction process and the actual recording itself. And it shows. The sound is as gritty as always, an authentic blend of homegrown soul and authentic Americana. "I had complete control of what material went on it, which was very important to me," he insists. "It was my money, I financed it, and no one could tell me shit... Which felt very liberating. If it tanks, it's on me, but at least it won't be at the hands of someone else."
Still, Castiglia didn't necessarily go it alone. "After it was done, I shopped it around, and Ruf made a generous offer which included a tour of Europe," he recalls. "I couldn't refuse. It cracked the Billboard top ten two weeks ago, so I guess doing it my way was the best thing that could've happened."
Albert Castiglia performs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at B.B. King's, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 236, West Palm Beach. Call 561-420-8600.