Review by Jmm photos by Ken Jackson
Every so often, the stars align and the blues world is treated to a collaboration that leaves an indelible mark. Such was the case at Bournefest 2023 when the incomparable Mike Zito and the electrifying Albert Castiglia took the stage together. It was a performance that resonated with a power that went beyond the music, truly showcasing their collective brilliance in a way that words can scarcely describe.
The anticipation in the air was palpable as fans gathered at Bournefest, eager to witness this dynamic duo in action. Both Zito and Castiglia have established themselves as formidable solo artists, but when they join forces, they become true “Blood Brothers,” sharing not only their music but also an undeniable connection that fuels the soul of their collaboration. This was the essence of their performance, an experience greater than the sum of its parts.
The evening kicked off with the announcement that Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia would be showcasing their latest album, aptly titled “Blood Brothers.” As the opening notes filled the air, it became evident that this would be no ordinary show. The two guitarists and vocalists, each a master in their own right, weaved their musical narratives together with an astonishing synergy. From the first chords, it was clear that we were in for something special.
One of the striking aspects of this performance was the sheer intensity that emanated from the stage. Zito and Castiglia weren’t content to simply play their songs; they inhabited them. Their voices, laden with emotion, carried the weight of their experiences, and their guitars served as extensions of their souls. It was a visceral experience, and the audience couldn’t help but be swept up in the waves of raw, authentic blues that washed over them.
As a long-time fan of Mike Zito, I had experienced his solo performances in the past, but seeing him alongside Albert Castiglia was a revelation. The chemistry between these two artists was nothing short of electric. Their interactions on stage were a testament to their mutual respect and shared passion for the blues. The camaraderie they displayed was not only endearing but also infectious, as it translated into unforgettable moments of musical collaboration.
One of the most exhilarating aspects of the evening was the guitar duels between Zito and Castiglia. Their instruments seemed to engage in a fiery conversation, each note and riff a response to the other. The sheer virtuosity on display was awe-inspiring. The two guitarists pushed each other to new heights, and the result was an explosion of blues brilliance that left the audience in awe.
But it wasn’t just the guitars that had their moment to shine. The rhythm section of the band, which included a superb bass player and not one but two drum kits with equally exceptional drummers, provided a solid foundation for the blues spectacle that unfolded. The dynamic between the drummers was a revelation in itself, and it culminated in a drum duel finale that left the crowd breathless.
The drummers engaged in a fierce yet harmonious battle of beats, their sticks flying with precision and their rhythms interweaving in a hypnotic dance. The sheer power and dexterity on display were a testament to the prowess of these musicians, who delivered a masterclass in rhythm and percussion. The drum duel was a fitting climax to a night of intense blues, and it left the audience on the edge of their seats.
Throughout the performance, Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia’s vocals carried the weight of the blues tradition. Their voices resonated with authenticity and vulnerability, making every lyric and melody ring true. Whether it was a soulful ballad or an up-tempo rocker, their voices were the conduits of raw emotion, connecting the audience to the heart of the blues.
The setlist for the evening was a well-curated mix of original tracks and beloved blues classics. The renditions of iconic blues songs were delivered with reverence, paying homage to the genre’s rich history while infusing a contemporary spirit. Zito and Castiglia’s original compositions, particularly those from their “Blood Brothers” album, held their own against the classics, proving that they are not only skilled interpreters but also brilliant songwriters.
the audience was left in a state of euphoria. Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia had not just performed; they had delivered an experience that transcended the stage. It was a celebration of the blues, a genre known for its ability to express the full spectrum of human emotion, and it was a reminder of the power of live music to unite and uplift.
In a world that sometimes feels overrun by fleeting trends and superficiality, the performance by Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia at Bournefest 2023 was a poignant reminder of the enduring relevance and beauty of the blues. Their collaboration, marked by genuine passion and remarkable musicianship, left an indelible mark on the hearts of all in attendance.
The blues, often described as the “universal language,” was spoken fluently and passionately by these two artists. Their performance was a testament to the enduring appeal of a genre that speaks to the soul, and it was a night that will be cherished by all fortunate enough to have been there. Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia’s “Blood Brothers” collaboration is a shining example of the magic that can happen when two blues virtuosos come together, and it’s a moment that will be remembered in the annals of blues history.