We had a blast performing at Nitro Bar in West Reading, PA last week. This one was a long time coming. The band was booked to play there April 2020, but then COVID hit and the doors were closed. Almost two years later, it was an honor for us to help kick off their grand reopening. The Nitro Bar Tuesday Night music series is really something else. The crowd is great. Sincere thanks for the love, Reading, PA – we plan be back soon. For everyone who couldn’t be there in person, here is a clip of us performing Wake Up, You’re Rockin’! It was filmed and edited by Michael Haas. Thanks again to Frank Phobia for setting up the show.
For those keeping track, our next show will be in New York City for Get Weird! We’ll be playing with our friends, The Rover Boys Trio and Wiped Out. No cover. Music starts at 9pm. Saturday March 26th. Ottos Shrunken Head.
Things are cooking here behind the scenes, so stay tuned for more show announcements soon.
Thank you to everyone who made it out to “Get Rhythm” at Franklin’s Glenside. We had a fantastic time performing on the legendary Blue Comet Stage. To top things off, we even got to play an hour long set backing the great Saudia Young. Above is a clip of us performing the Bo Diddley classic, You Can’t Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover. The night was a blast. And since it was our last show for 2021, we went out on a high note. That spot is really starting to feel like a second home for us.
So what’s new for the band?
The plan is to take a few weeks off for the holidays and then get back right to it. Mighty Joe Castro is working on songs for the next record. If all goes well, hopefully we will release new music later in 2022. And we hope to hit the road and see new towns, playing more shows. We will be back in New York City at Otto’s Shrunken Head in March for Get Weird.
We also have new “Come On Angels!” prayer candles available for purchase at all of our live shows. Pick one up when you can.
Return to the scene of the crime… we are pleased to announce that Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen will be the first band to kick off Franklin Pub’s monthly rockabilly night. Located in Glenside, PA Titled Get Rythym, the monthly showcase with happen on the second Sunday of each month. Franklin’s is located in Glenside, PA, in the same location where the legendary Blue Comet was
The Blue Comet was a legendary Philadelphia venue that hosted some of the best rockabilly musicians for years before shutting things down years ago. It was known world wide as a home away from home for both rockabilly fans and musicians.
For those keeping score, the band has been back on the road, playing shows from New York City to York, PA. Look for more dates across the states in the coming year.
To stay current and avoid FOMO, please follow the band on Instagram, facebook, spotify and especially youtube. We have lots of plans for new content, so stay tuned.
And holiday shoppers, we have vinyl and CDs for sale over at Mighty Joe Castro’s web store. Get your orders in early to avoid any possible delays with shipping.
A slow, meditative burn, washed with regret and the distant echos of Nick Cave in a candle lit room channeling Johnny Cash at Stax Volt. Ameripolitan rockabilly outfit Mighty Joe Castro & the Gravamen offer their soulful re-interpretation of Johnny Thunders’ lament, “Disappointed In You”.
The track was ecorded live in studio, without overdubs, on June 24th for Johnny’s 2021 Birthday Bash concert stream. It is available as a digital single on spotify, apple music and all other streaming platforms.
“Going down a Heartbreakers rabbit hole years ago, at a time in my life when a few former band mates and childhood friends had recently passed before their time, I came across a live version of this tune, with just Johnny and a sax player, and it blew me away. As a song, it didn’t feel fully finished but it held it’s ground with a rough honesty. I got the feeling that Johnny was singing just as much about himself as to some other person. I think any working musician or artist with a little mileage under their belt, has lost someone close to them who had so much talent, so much potential, so much heart… but in the end, they let it slip away either to drugs or depression. Sadly, I could relate.
So I was honored to be asked to participate in the 2021 Johnny Thunders Birthday Bash, as part of the live stream, and knew I wanted to do this song. We took it seriously and I wanted to do it right. It was recorded completely live (no overdubs) at Miner St. in Philadelphia by Brian McTear. It was filmed by Bob Sweeney, who used 4 stationary cameras plus his handheld. For three hours of work, I think it came out pretty good.. Thank you Steve Krebs, Barry Apfel and Simone Zimmerman for including us.
These days, when I think of Johnny Thunders, I think of attitude. Swagger. Style. The guy had it in spades. But if you strip away all the drug mythology and notoriety that gets tangled up with his legacy, what you’re left with is genuine 100% New York City rock-n-roll. Not to mention the songs, which continue to stand the test of time.”
Mighty Joe Castro was recently invited to write an essay for American Blues Scene about the Rockabilly Against Racism sticker movement he started. You can read the full article here.
Mighty Joe Castro (of Mighty Joe Castro & the Gravamen) is seeking to inspire change with vintage sounds, not vintage values
“I first started making Rockabilly Against Racism stickers in August of 2019, shortly after hearing the news of the El Paso shooting. At the time, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it – what amount of hatred inspires someone to drive an hour away and open fire on a random assortment of unarmed strangers because of their race? It was the cold premeditatedness of the action that broke my heart.
Over the previous few years, I had watched President Trump and others continue to stoke the fires of racial hatred in America. It was divide and conquer and, like many, I felt helpless. But being an artist, I understood that you must combat negative propaganda with positive propaganda.
The idea was inspired by Joe Strummer / The Clash and, more specifically, the legendary Rock Against Racism gigs that they were a part of in the 1970s. For me, the beauty of early rock-n-roll lies in the synergy and cross-pollination of different musical styles and cultures – the twang of country music mixed with that rhythm and blues boogie, combined with the passionate fire of gospel music and the soulful harmonies of doo-wop. It’s Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. Bo Diddley and Ritchie Valens. This music helped break down the walls of segregation in the south and paved the way for the 1960s.
Our band is based in Philadelphia, where punks once referred to the rockabilly scene as the “skinhead retirement community.” It’s 2020 and, unfortunately, that scene is still littered with images of the Confederate flag. Now I’ve heard people claim the use of that flag is about southern pride and rebellion, not racism. I don’t buy it.
A real rebel doesn’t need a flag – they make their own. And that’s what the Rockabilly Against Racism sticker is for us – a new flag.
A real rebel doesn’t need a flag – they make their own. And that’s what the Rockabilly Against Racism sticker is for us – a new flag. We needed to set ourselves apart and let everyone know that while we celebrate the sound and style of the 1950s, we’re not living in the past. We’re taking that classic 1957 Chevy and putting a hybrid electric engine in it. Vintage sounds, not vintage values.
So I handed the stickers out at our shows and put the message out on social media that I’d mail a few to anyone who sent their address. Since then, I’ve distributed a few thousand all across the states as well as Europe, Australia, South America and Asia. And with every batch, I include a hand written Thank You note in an effort to personally acknowledge people and begin to build a real sense of community.
People asked for a Facebook group, so we got that going as a way for bands, promoters and fans to connect and work toward making positive change. I offered the sticker design free of charge to anyone who wanted to use it – the only stipulation being that they couldn’t make a profit off of it. Everything must be given out for free or sold for cost. A group in Germany started distributing shirts and patches all over Europe and a collective of vintage vendors began sending stickers out with every order.
People are printing stickers and buttons in Texas, Tennessee, Las Vegas and elsewhere. We had tentative plans to organize several Rockabilly Against Racism concerts to raise money for different organizations, but COVID-19 quickly hit the pause button on that. It will happen at some point though.
I am under no illusions that this effort is a miracle cure to fix a major systemic problem. My hope though, moving forward, is that when some young kid discovers this music, and starts going to shows, that they’ll see the Rockabilly Against Racism sticker on the band’s bass guitar or some patches on the jackets of audience members and realize that they are welcome. It’s an inclusive scene that we’re building. This isn’t meant to solve the problem – it’s a spark to inspire people to make a difference.”
Philly-based singer-songwriter Mighty Joe Castro would fit right in at the Twin Peaks roadhouse. His retro-rock stylings channel the uneasy underbelly of 1950s American life; think equal parts film noir and Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing,” a vibe that perfectly coalesces in his new music video for “There Are No Secrets Here.” – John Vettese, WXPN’s The Key.
We are pleased to announce the release of our brand new single, There Are No Secrets Here. It is the first song from our upcoming debut album, Come On Angels, which will drop July 31 and is available for streaming on all platforms. The song was recorded at Miner St Recordings in Philadelphia and produced by Brian McTear.
“This was filmed during the COVID19 quarantine. I went total DIY and shot the performance footage myself one night at my house with an iPhone and three flashlights, using old mic stands as tripods/light stands. I even gave myself a haircut the night before. I love old B-movies, so I incorporated scenes from two vintage films – Dementia (aka Daughter From Hell – 1958) and Carnival of Souls (1962) – both are public domain. Due to social distancing, I couldn’t film or get footage from the band (our drummer doesn’t have a cell phone or camera) so I came up with the idea of using still photos in old magazine articles. I really prefer working with limitations. It keeps you focused and forces you to get creative, where an unlimited amount of options can be a hard river to cross. I hope you dig it.”
Stay tuned for more single releases in the coming weeks. And to keep up to date, please follow Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen on spotify, instagram, facebook and youtube.
“Come On Angels” we chanted and, in the end, we got lucky. After spending the winter months recording our new album, trying our best to ignore the pandemic slowly blossoming over our shoulders, we strolled out of Miner St Recording, final mixes in hand, two days before the quarantine was declared.
So we are pleased to announce that we will be releasing our debut record Come On Angels! on July 31st on vinyl, CD and all streaming platforms.
The 10 new tracks were recorded at Miner St Recording in Philadelphia, PA and produced by Brian McTear (Sharon Van Etten, Dr. Dog, War on Drugs, Dead Milkmen). The band is really proud of this record and we can’t wait for you to hear it.
The track listing for the album:
There Are No Secrets Here
Come On Angels!
Cold and Bitter Tears
Whispering Hell (The Finish Line)
For Every Setting Sun
June (90 Degrees)
Why Not Just Give In This Time
Better Hold Tight
You’ve Got It All (So What Are You Looking For?)
We’ll be dropping singles from the album over the coming weeks so please do us a solid and follow the band on Spotify.