One-man band

Andrew Castro builds his audience in Sacramento and itches to leave

Dreaming of somewhere better than a blank wall.

Dreaming of somewhere better than a blank wall.

Photo courtesy of andrew castro

Andrew Castro sips his hot tea and casually recalls that time he released four EPs in a single year, each accompanied by a sold-out release show—well, one wasn’t quite sold out, but he blames that on a heavy storm.

Yeah, no big deal.

He explains: The first was at Shine in February 2015, when the owners told him it was the most money they’d ever made in a single night. Then it was Harlow’s, where he told the owner he could, no problem, bring 250 people. He got off the phone and told his girlfriend, the Sacramento musician Xochitl, “I got to figure out a way to get 250 people.”

Then it was Old Ironsides. Though the last one at Harlow’s didn’t sell out, Castro did bring 225 people and felt proud.

If that isn’t enough, he did all this as a recent Sacramento transplant. When he threw that Shine show, one of his first ever, he’d only moved to Sacramento from the Bay Area 10 months prior.

The idea to record four EPs stemmed from his open-mic days: He noticed that listeners took a liking to his gentle, emotive finger-picking folk song “Fall.” The recording didn’t turn out great, but it sparked an idea: Why not record as much as possible and get really good at it in the process?

“Some people gave me crap. Like, why are you doing that?” Castro says. “Having that many people show up after four of those shows kind of proved [my] theory.”

About five months after relocating to Sacramento—still months before releasing his first EP—Castro completely changed his live set, which elevated his draw to headliner status. He went from being just another guy with an acoustic guitar to a solo musician playing a full looping station. He layers guitar parts, vocal harmonies and rhythms by beatboxing and slapping on the guitar strings. It gives his folk music more depth and groove. His set is suddenly more of a show.

“I wanted more sound, but getting a band is a pain in the ass for so many reasons,” Castro says. “I practice a lot, and I want to be able to throw my looping station in my suitcase and go on tour. My loop pedal never complains.”

Now Castro will release yet another EP, Solo, on October 13. This isn’t just another EP in a long list of releases.

“There’s a bigger picture. I had goals, like the four EPs. Those were very right-in-Sacramento goals. Now there’s more of a path, like how do I get out of Sacramento?” Castro says. “Before it was almost like a fantasy. It’s not that I can see it, but I know the path to get there. I just have to make it happen.”

Much of his new confidence began this past May, when he went to Nashville to talk to some industry folks. In June, he signed a contract with Riser Music, where, he says, they selected seven of his songs to find spots for them on TV and film.

He’s got a tour booked following a show at Momo Sacramento. He’s working with Sofar Sounds to perform all over the country. Beginning October 29, he’ll be playing in Chico, Portland, Chicago, Honolulu, Austin and other cities.

Over the course of five EPs and one LP, Castro feels he’s really gotten better at songwriting.

“Before I was very confined to [Sacramento],” he says. “I think that’s why I got so frustrated. Because it was only this little box. Instead of, Oh wait, there’s this whole world.”