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Wednesday Night Live – Guitarsonists | Featuring: Chris Cain, Daniel Castro & Mighty Mike Schermer
Wednesday, July 19 @ 8:00 pm| $15
The Guitarsonists, a burning new 3-guitar blues band in the Bay Area. Chris Cain’s jazz-tinged, blues soaked guitar and deep, warm vocals have the maturity and authenticity of bluesmen many years his senior. Daniel Castro is one of the most dynamic blues guitarists performing in the West Coast. Mighty Mike Schermer was a fixture on the Bay Area blues scene for over 20 years.
Chris Cain Bio
Chris Cain’s jazz-tinged, blues soaked guitar and deep, warm vocals have the maturity and authenticity of bluesmen many years his senior. His expressive style is the result of a lifetime of study and the relentless pursuit of music mastery. His passion and intensity for music was ignited early in life by his mom and dad’s deep love for blues and soul.
Cain was raised on stories of his father’s childhood upbringing on Memphis’ Historic Beale Street and attended his first B.B King concert at the tender age of three. Blues music played continuously on the home stereo and family outings were often trips to concerts. Cain recalls, “I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would be mowing the lawn with the stereo blasting Muddy Waters. When I look back, that was pretty cool! There was always music playing at our house, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, all the greats.”
At the age of eight, Cain taught himself to play guitar and began playing professionally before he was eighteen. Chris studied music at San Jose City College, and was soon teaching jazz improvisation on campus. Over the next twenty years, Cain would also master piano, bass guitar, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone. The combination of his blues upbringing and his jazz studies melded to form the searing guitar style that sets Chris Cain apart and has moved him to the top ranks of the blues music scene.
Daniel Castro Bio
Daniel was born in Ensenada, Baja California and also lived in Tijuana. The family later moved to Buena Park, California when Daniel was eight. Even as young kids, Daniel and his older brother Mario wanted to play guitar. “In Tijuana we found an old piece of plywood in a field. We took it home and cut two guitars out of it, painted on the knobs and pick guard, and strung some fishing line with nails on them.” After bugging their mother and father for years they finally got their first real guitar from Sears – a St. George electric guitar with no amplifier. The brothers shared the right-handed guitar, which was no problem for Mario who was right-handed but a huge problem for Daniel who was a lefty. Daniel’s brother would laugh at him while he tried to play it upside down, so he finally taught himself to play right-handed. Daniel’s older sister, Jypsy, who was singing in a band, introduced Daniel to all the big soul stars at the time and taught him to play Jimmy Reed riffs in the key of E. Jypsy also gave Daniel two BB King records and “when I heard that Lucille vibrato, that was it…it made me cry.”
In 1969, Daniel’s brother Mario was killed in a car accident. Daniel was fifteen at the time. “I was sitting on the curb in front of our house after my brother’s funeral and a friend came up and said ‘Daniel you take that guitar and play your heart out for Mario wherever you go.’” And that’s what Daniel’s been doing ever since.
As he grew up in the L.A. area, Daniel was heavily influenced by the blues greats Albert KIng, B.B. King, and Albert Collins. As a kid, Daniel would hang outside clubs like the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach to hear these blues legends perform and wait for a glimpse of them through the curtains. After cutting his teeth in South Central L.A. blues clubs with “Mighty Mouth” Delmar Evans, who worked with the Johnny Otis Show, Castro backed other great artists from Otis’ band, including Pee Wee Crayton and Little Esther Phillips. He also recorded and toured with many other artists including legendary Small Faces singer-bassist Ronnie Lane.
Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1995, Daniel formed The Daniel Castro Band and quickly became a hot draw in the burgeoning local blues scene. In 1999, Daniel recorded his first release, No Surrender, followed in 2003 with Live at The Saloon, a double CD recorded at San Francisco’s oldest bar and mecca for the blues faithful. Both CDs highlight the talents of Daniel’s playing, songwriting, and arranging and feature stellar performances by some of the Bay Area’s best sidemen.
In 2011, Daniel began looking to form a new band. He had always been surrounded by great players but wanted to focus on his original material, which required working with musicians that shared his passion, would commit to strenuous rehearsals, and had the natural chemistry needed to help him realize the music’s potential. Daniel began getting together with bassist Johnny Yu, whom he had played with in the past and who had recorded several cuts on his “No Surrender” CD. They quickly became a team, working out arrangements to many of Daniel’s new original tunes and forming the nucleus of the new band. Daniel and Johnny began performing as a trio, using a platoon of drummers as they searched for the elusive third member of the band. In early 2012, Johnny reconnected with drummer David Perper, whom he had worked with in a variety of settings over many years. David got together with Daniel and Johnny at their rehearsal space and it soon became obvious to all that they collectively had something unique. With Johnny and David, Daniel has an intuitive and explosive rhythm section, able to anticipate each others moves and support Daniel’s music as it deserves. “We have something special. It’s hard to describe, but we feel it and so do our audiences. We’ve all come from different backgrounds and our personal stories vary. We all come to this band with our past and are forming our future.”
Mighty Mike Schermer Bio
Mighty Mike Schermer was a fixture on the Bay Area blues scene for over 20 years when he relocated to Austin TX in 2009 and joined the touring band of swamp-boogie piano legend Marcia Ball. He carved out a solid solo career, with four critically acclaimed CDs, an award winning single and thousands of performances at festivals and nightclubs the world over. He also became the “go to guy” sideman for such heavyweights as Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Angela Strehli, Bonnie Raitt, Howard Tate, Charlie Musselwhite, Sista Monica, Shana Morrison and many, many more. Oh yes…we may be judged by the company we keep, but when the spotlight shines a solo artist also must be able to bring the goods all on his own.
Mighty Mike Schermer delivers on all fronts.
Mike’s musical journey started at age ten…fumbling around with guitar, trumpet and clarinet. He played in school and in various rock and roll bands throughout his teens, but everything changed one night in 1984 when he plunked down three dollars to see The Master of The Telecaster – Albert Collins. “Albert hit that first note,” says Schermer ” and it was like a door slammed behind me and another one opened up in front. That was the sound and the soul and the feeling I’d been looking for in music up to that point.” He met Collins after the show and many times later until Collins’ untimely death. “One time I went to see him at the San Francisco Blues Festival” Mighty Mike remembers, “and I got backstage and went over to his bus to say hello. I knocked on the door and heard a voice…‘hey, I’m under here’…he was changing the oil!” That do-it-yourself, workingman’s attitude is what has kept Schermer in the blues all these years. It is a tradition he carries out on stage each and every night. From Collins Mike also learned that one note can say more than a million; to honor your heroes but have your own sound; to play your ass off at every single show; and that every guitar player in the world should listen to T-Bone Walker.”
When Albert Collins tells you to go out and get some T-Bone Walker records you RUN out to the nearest record shop and then get to work. Mike plunged headlong into the T-Bone Walker style and literally came up swingin’. Lee Hildebrand wrote in Living Blues that Schermer “…has thoroughly internalized the Walker vocabulary, which he uses as a jumping off point for his own highly personal improvisations…(he) stands shoulder to shoulder with Roy Gaines and Duke Robillard as a leading contemporary exponent of the Walker style.”
From T-Bone Walker, Schermer expanded his vocal and guitar influences to include a host of blues, R&B and jazz artists like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Smith, Charles Brown and Howlin’ Wolf. Ears began to turn…the next thing you know Mike had attracted the attention of west coast harmonica master Andy Santana. Along with drummer June Core and bassist Steve Ehrmann they formed The Soul Drivers, a legendary Bay Area band that had the rare ability to either steal the show on their own or provide superb backing to better known artists such as Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Luther Tucker, Snooky Pryor, Elvin Bishop and Tommy Castro. Texas blues belter Angela Strehli had recently moved to California and quickly tapped the Soul Drivers as her touring band. Strehli’s “Deja Blue” (1998), with Mighty Mike as musical director and guitarist, was nominated for a California Music Award (BAMMIE) for Best Contemporary Blues Release. Schermer has more BAMMIE connections. The year before in 1997 the Soul Drivers were asked to be house band for the Bay Area Blues Showcase at the awards show where they backed up Bonnie Raitt, Booker T., Joe Louis Walker, the Gospel Hummingbirds and Strehli. Austin deLone was the musical director of the BAMMIES at that time. He and Mike have since worked together in several incarnations, including a big Tribute to R&B concert at Bumbershoot 2003 in Seattle, WA where they backed Bonnie, Howard Tate, Ruth Brown, Shemekia Copeland, Maxi Priest and more in front of 30,000 fans!
Willie Dixon told him, “Boy, you play your ass off,” while Snooky Pryor lauded his “stingin’ guitar.” At a show at the legendary Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA in 1996 Bonnie Raitt dubbed Schermer her “new favorite guitar player.”
The Mighty Mike Schermer Band’s debut release 1st Set (2000) received rave reviews and success worldwide and is still popular on the scene today, but it was the 2005 release of Next Set that introduced Schermer to the modern blues world as one of the genre’s foremost songwriters. Propelled by the hit single “My Big Sister’s Radio” Next Set climbed the Living Blues Radio Charts, scored three and a half stars in Downbeat magazine and was #1 on XM radio for well over three months. The song also found it’s way into the Carolina Beach Music scene, and in 2006 it was awarded the CMBA’s National Song of the Year. Blues star Tommy Castro also covered the song on his Painkiller CD, which won a 2008 Blues Music Award (Handy Award) for best contemporary album.
In 2006 blues/rock legend Elvin Bishop hired Schermer on as his lead guitarist. The blending of their two unique styles proved a tough combination to beat. Elvin’s release The Blues Rolls On (2008) puts Mighty Mike side by side with some of the best guitarists in the business including Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and even the king of the blues himself – B.B. King! In 2011 Mike was heavily featured on Marcia Ball’s Roadside Attractions CD. His extensive discography also includes recordings with Maria Muldaur, Howard Tate, Sista Monica and many more.
He has toured through a host of festivals including 3 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals, 5 San Francisco Blues Festivals, the Poretta Soul Festival in Italy, the Park Tower Blues Festival in Tokyo and as a hometown favorite at 8 Santa Cruz Blues Festivals. He has performed in all 50 US states and in 21 countries around the world, and the journey is far from over!