Written by Michael Pittman
Sep 30, 2011 at 08:00 PM
I was looking forward to this show because ever since I first saw Del Castillo at the Conroe Catfish Festival 3 years ago I’ve been a huge fan and never miss a chance to see them if I can help it. Ok, I’ll be honest right up front and say I know just enough Spanish to get myself in serious trouble, but when it comes to this band I definitely don’t need a translator. Most of their stuff is in Spanish and it would probably help, but the raw emotion and the energy these guys pour into each and every song transcends language.

At that festival they totally blew me away from a bunch of different directions and I’m happy to say they still do. First of all there’s Mark and Rick Del Castillo, for whom the band is named, on guitars. They have a flamenco speed and style and this unbelievable ability to play completely in unison..it’s as if they can read each other’s minds. I remember hearing Brotherhood for the first time and thinking what an amazingly fast guitarist that was, but then realizing it was actually two when one brother split off and began playing harmony to the other. A converted lead guitar player, Bert (no prior felony convictions) Besteiro holds down the bass while Mike Zeoli on drums and Rick Holeman on drums and percussion respectively punch the Latin rhythms as solidly as any percussion section I’ve ever heard. Alex Ruiz is on lead vocals, plays guitar, harmonica and adds a dimension that’s intangible..total soul.

Without a word, percussion started the night. Zeoli by himself is amazing, but throwing Holeman’s percussion in the mix laid an unmistakable foundation for the rest of the set. One by one Del Castillo took the stage and peppered the crowd with nylon stringed shards of musical virtuosity in the form of Don Nicolas and Los Caballos, followed by Suenos Madrigales… all from 2002’s Vida project. Café Sin Leche showcased the Del Castillo brothers guitars. Grounded in Flamenco, but flavored with blues and rock they traded solos and harmonies against a backdrop of solid rhythms manufactured by Besteiro, Zeoli and Holeman. During these solos Alex displays his world renowned repertoire of creative, expressive hand clapping. I’m not sure, but I think those hands are listed with Lloyd’s of London..I may be wrong.

Much of the rest of the night split between 2009’s Del Castillo project and 2006’s Brotherhood release. Word has it that a new CD is due in February next year and a sampling of the new material made the setlist too. Another great show in a wonderful venue made even better by the lovely and talented Stephanie Urbina-Jones opening artist. I wrote a review of Stephanie’s show in another article here on HMR, so please check it out if you haven’t already.