Modern sounds in rockabilly music:
Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen is the latest musical project from accomplished collage artist and musician Joe Castro (ex-The Situation, The Lift Up, Nero /OPF). Heavily influenced by the sound of rockabilly as well as ‘50s rock-n-roll and doo-wop, the band takes that vintage rock and roll sound but updates it with a modern lyrical approach and a healthy dose of post-modern guitar effects. Consider it a house that resides at the cross roads where Sun Records and Creation Records meet.
The Gravamen were formed after doghouse bassist H00V3r reached out to Castro about forming a new band. H00V3r enlisted Dallas, his band mate in Philadelphia punk rock stalwarts Thorazine, to play drums and later found hot-shot lead guitarist Michael Stingle floating around Mount Airy. The full band held it’s first practice together in January 2018 and shortly after recorded their debut EP, Wake Up, You’re Rockin’! that May with Grammy nominate producer Jim Salamone at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philadelphia. The 4 song EP was released in July of 2018, followed by a limited edition vinyl 7” release in October 2018.
According to Joe Castro: “We define ourselves as a rockabilly band because the term rock and roll these days has become so broad that it’s completely meaningless. But I consider us to be a rock-n-roll band in the truest sense of the word, in the tradition of the pioneers of the genre like Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley and Johnny Burnette. My Dad grew up in Brookyln in the’ 50s, and would tell me stories about going to the Alan Freed shows at the Paramount and seeing Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. As a kid, those guys were legends to me. Couple that with being taken to the drive-in to see films like American Hot Wax, American Graffiti and Grease – that beat was in my ears from a very early age. It’s in my blood. I’ve always loved it.”
Influences include Sun Records, Stray Cats, The Cramps, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, combined with elements of punk and shoegaze with a lyrical influence of Morrissey, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bob Dylan.
Mighty Joe Castro is an accomplished Philadelphia based collage artist, musician and graphic designer. His work has been shown in galleries and art spaces across the United States, Canada and Europe and featured in numerous books and magazines including The Age of Collage (Gestalten), Glamour, GQ Style, Arkitip and The Baffler. They have been described as “a controlled explosion, aggressive and pensive (Kolaj Magazine)” and “bold and diverse… one of those collage artists whose works you recognize immediately… (Toombes.com).” He is a signature member of the National Collage Society. For more information, visit mightyjoecastro.com