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Eventually, though, his reputation and the word of mouth generated by his electric performances prevailed. These days he's a fixture at Tobacco Road, Sax on the Beach, and Titanic Brewery and Restaurant. Last January he and his band -- keyboardist Jerry Mascaro, bassist Steve Gaskell, and drummer Bob Amsel -- journeyed to Memphis as representatives of the South Florida Blues Society to perform in the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge for the title of "Best Unsigned Band." While they didn't advance to the finals, facing off against 90 other bands from throughout the world gave them their first taste of global competition.
Castiglia also touts Burn, his 2002 solo album, which featured contributions from Iko Iko bassist Graham Drout. "I met him at a jam session at Tobacco Road in the early Nineties," Drout recalls. "I didn't see him for around five years and then when I did, I thought, 'Holy cow, that's the real deal.' Later I went up to him and said, 'You gotta make a record.' It took another year -- in Miami everything takes a year -- and there were other delays. But it brought us together."
Castiglia and Drout went to Nashville to record, their seven months of songwriting yielding eleven songs: two by Castiglia, four by Drout, and two joint compositions, along with three covers. Like his live sets, the album bears a number of familiar references, from Little Feat to Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's blues-based, for sure, but with a revved-up rock and roll sensibility that propels it.
"I write music as original as I can," insists Castiglia. "The songs are based on life experience, personal relationships, life on the road. It's all honest, real stuff." Still he concedes that there's little reason to cry the blues. "I'm so damn happy now," he confesses, motioning toward his girlfriend. "I don't know what I can write about that has to do with blues. Of course the last time I said that about a girl, she broke up with me the next day."