Joe Castellano: Blues & Wine Festival

Allow me to start off by saying that this article is meant to be read by individuals who have someone that they have never met whom they profoundly admire.

I have been lucky enough to meet my favourite “Sicilian Artist” Joe Castellano personally and feel it would be helpful to share what I have learned . During  my Xmas Holidays in Sicily, I had a special lunch with “Dr. Joe”, as  he is called by anyone, at “OceanoMare” , a gorgeuos pub & restaurant nestled on a quiet beach looking out to a marvelous tract of clear blue sea in Agrigento.  Enjoying that pleasant atmopshere between an octopus salad and a glass of Franciacorta , I listened intently as he described the begininngs of his passion, Music!

Joe Castellano

Joe Castellano

Musician, composer and arranger of international fame, Joe Castellano is now in the limelight of Italian blues since 18 years, since when he has led his“Joe Castellano’s Super Blues Band” on the most prestigious stages of the best music festivals.

From year 2004, Joe and his own “Super Blues & Soul Band”  are awarded as “Best European new original Big Soul Band” by the National Italian Radio – RADIO 1 RAI – and by so many International Radios and legendary American artists. His last double live record “Blues & Soul with my Latin side” has been inserted in the June 2009, in the special hit “Top 25 album of the year” for the biggest “American Blues/Soul Radio”, “Blues Critic Soul Radio”. He took up a career as musician when he was only 14 and after several experiences, always connected with black music. In 1994 he debuted with his Joe Castellano‘s “Super Blues & Soul Band” together with its special guest, the American sideman Arthur Miles (nephew of Jack McDuff and contributor to the first Zucchero‘s releases), and during the summer of the same year he performed the opening act for the great King of Soul Solomon Burke. Since many years he has been regarded as one of the most representative musicians of European “Soul/Blues Music”, and has reached such a high level with his “Super Blues & Soul Band”, that it has aroused enthusiasm also in the most expert public and in the most exigent critics in the world. Active since more than 18 years on the blues stage, Joe Castellano has played with and has hosted in his band some leading international musicians, such as “The Blues Brothers”“The Holmes Brothers”Johnny Adams, Sherman RobertsonEddie FloydSugar BluePee Wee Ellis, Matt ‘guitar’ MurphyAl Mckay,  Chris CainLenny CastroKeisha Jackson,  Bobby Durham, Arthur Miles,  and many others. He has sometimes hosted in his shows also some of the best  Italian Soul/Blues Musicians, such as Roberto CiottiJames SeneseGiulio Todrani (Giorgia‘s father) and Paolo Belli. He has performed the opening act for Solomon Burke (1994), “The Blues Brothers”,(1995 and 2003), and “Earth Wind and Fire”  (2006 and 2007), on several Italian tour dates. Since 2003 he has been awarded “Best soul performer in Italy” by Radio 1 RAI every year and has been finalist in the prestigious “International Songwriting Competition”(Nashville), a festival devoted to the best composers in the world. He has performed in the best Italian and European blues Festivals from Nancy to Munich for many years.  Since 1995 he has been organizing promotional events and side-events for “Blues & Wine Soul Festival”, playing in some celebrated theatres and famous cities such as: Rome, Naples, Florence, Milano, Taranto, Cesenatico, Trieste, L’Aquila, Ruffano (Lecce), Agrigento, Lamezia, Palermo, Cefalù, Siracusa, Marsala, Noto and many others.  Joe Castellano has taken part in and organized several concerts all around Italy and abroad, such as “Agrigento Blues Festival” (1994) and the festival “La Ferrari e la Musica” (2006) – at formal invitation of the legendary Maranello brand  and has played with the greatest interpreters of these musical genre. Since 2010 on he has also presented the show “Joe Castellano & The Super Soul Legends”.

Blues & Wine Festival, Agrigento

“Blues & Wine Soul Festival” started in  Sicily 15 years ago. Its aim was, and still is,  not only to revive  the best of the worldwide “Blues & Soul Music“ performing  an itinerant circuit through Europe, but even to export Wine & Food excellences from Sicily to Italy and from Italy abroad. This is done by programming the realization of workshops, conferences, meetings with the wine-makers and journalists  during the days of his shows in Italy,  Europe and in the USA.

Joe Castellano wroted sound tracks for important films during last years contributing to spread the best essence of what it means to be Sicilian:  character, passion, determination, kindness . Mixing Sicilian and  Soul Music for first time, he  discovered and renewed  the authentic and genuine Sicilian Spirit through his innovatives notes. An example of this succesfull attempt is a list of beautiful tracks written for the soundtrack of two important films directed by the Sicilian Director Francesco Lama:  “Lo Sposalizio” (The Sicilian Marriage) with the songs “Circannu Amuri” (“Looking for some kind of Love”), “A Caminata” (“The Walking”and “Rosa” and “I Siciliani” , starring  the charming Maria Grazia Cucinotta, with “Juliette”, Old Images”, “I Wanna Talk You about a Woman”, “Rosa”. It’s really difficult to sum up Dr Joe‘s carreer , who, moreover, is manager at Administrative Court of Agrigento. One question came to my mind as I met  Dr Joe with other nice friends during an unconventional lunch at the amazing restaurant “Arrhais” in Finale di Pollina at the end of December: could he gave up his job to go on only with Music? Between one discussion and another his answer was clearly “No”! As  he stated in his answer, one of the biggest challenges facing musicians is generating income, gone are the days when a band could rely solely on music sales and touring to earn a living! The worse risk is  to submit Music to the law of market.

Dr Joe likes to see himself as an artist much more than a musician, because he is a free spirit looking for that intimate Sense of Beauty , that he can find only in Sicily  transfering it in his dreams that go on becoming true. The Essence of his Kindness is in His Poetry “Sunny”, which is about the traditional tomatos farming in Sicily with the vivid images of an hot and  pleasant working day.


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