For the record
Mark Castro Band
There has been some confusion about exactly who the Mark Castro Band is. Besides having its musical identity partly obscured by the large number of covers it plays, the classic-rock group has also encountered venues, audiences and auditioning drummers who have been under the impression that it is a blues band.
“Sometimes [clubs] automatically think ‘you’re classic rock—you must be blues.’ No, that’s not the same,” says Doris Runcie (aka Satia) a little annoyed at having to state the obvious.
Misconceptions about the band’s style seem to stem from confusion with the Tommy Castro Band. Like Mark Castro, Tommy Castro is a Bay Area guitarist and bandleader. Unlike Mark, Tommy is a blues player.
“Even this last week, we played someone’s house party; somebody thought I was [Tommy Castro’s] brother,” says Castro.
Though Satia is a solid bass player and has a classic, slightly gravelly rock voice, she insists the focus of the band is guitarist Castro. Without any prompting, she extols at length his abilities, drawing comparison to such luminaries as Al Dimeola, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Carlos Santana.
“One of the things that Mark does that is so phenomenal is speed,” Satia says. “Sometimes, when he plays, you can’t even see his fingers move.”
“That depends on the song,” Castro clarifies. “I don’t throw in speed just to throw in speed.”
Though Castro is quick to dispel the impression that he is merely a show-off artist, his playing will not disappoint fans of virtuoso guitar playing.
Started as an original band in the ‘80s (featuring Santana bassist Dave Brown), Mark Castro Band’s current line-up dates back about two years, to when Castro met Satia in Santa Cruz. The duo moved to Reno and were recently joined by drummer Roger Ellis.
Previously, the band played short sets of original music, often opening for acts such as Montrose and Robin Trower. For the sake of getting regular work after relocating to Reno, the band decided to lengthen the sets by incorporating covers. Though their shows now consist almost entirely of covers, with a repertoire stretching back as far as Rock Around the Clock but concentrating on ‘60s and ‘70s rock. Satia and Castro explain that the band is still more interested in doing justice to the and putting their own stamp on them than in simply pleasing the crowd.
“We can sound original by doing what they want, plus add things that are our own to the song,” says Castro.
Now that Satia and Castro are feeling settled as a band and happy with drummer Ellis, they intend to start putting more emphasis on original music.
“This summer, we’ll be recording at least one original,” says Satia.
Then, maybe we’ll know who the Mark Castro band really is—besides a cover band with a smokin’ guitar player.