Concert Review: The Damon Castillo Band with the San Luis Symphony

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One does not get many opportunities to be present at a “milestone event”, something so larger than life that would be remembered as an ”I was there when” moment. The Damon Castillo concert was just such an event. The night was stormy with heavy rain, the streets were bare except for the rivers forming on the roadways, but the parking lot at the Clark Center Theatre was packed solid and people were standing in the rain and cold just to be able to get in to see the night’s performance.

The Clark Center for the Performing Arts is the Central Coast’s premier venue for world-class, professional performing arts in an intimate setting. Located in Arroyo Grande, the Clark Center is a state-of-the-art hub for cultural events serving all the people of our community and their families, as well as an institution for vocational and educational opportunity. A diverse and varied world of creative arts performed in the professional surroundings of the Clark Center provides exuberance, creative vitality and joy to all those who embrace it. The Damon Castillo Band’s performance this evening would be no less a theatrical highlight than any of the fabulous performances they are known for.

We arrived about 20 minutes before curtain call and found our seats in a “standing room only” show. The theatre was packed with an audience that included the general public as well as local celebrity and socialites, everyone from the youngest hipster to the oldest music aficionado. It was like a private party, everyone seemed to know each other, like members of a large family here to support one of their own. The Damon Castillo Band is known as the local hometown heroes of music, all classically trained musicians with a flair for the Soul Searching, Smokey and Jazzy music the is the soundtrack to many of the lives of the Central Coast residents.

The bands rhythm section was steady and tight, never missing a beat and the horn section belted out melodies that make you swoon in your seat, Damon’s voice carried the messages of the soul to the people with the accuracy of arrow, hitting you hard and making its mark in your memory. The keyboards were not lost in the mix as Kristian Ducharme played with a surgeon’s precision, making every note count. Opening with “All I Know” every song was received with applause and delight from the audience, the last song before intermission brought another well know performer, Inga Swearingen, on stage to sing in duet with Damon on “Mexico City”.

Coming back from intermission, the stage was set with members off the San Luis Obispo Symphony Strings. The 2nd half of the evening’s performance opened up with the song “Your Fool” which had a plucky and happy melody that would get you humming along. One song that stood out most for me was “ One Life Stand”, a song about a chance meeting of romance that turns into an opportunity for a life time of love, something few all have a chance for but hardly ever find more than once. The evening ended on an encore of “Saint Cecilia” and as Damon and his crew left the stage, the theater still echoed of their music and his words, and as silence took over, the voices of the people leaving was a murmur compared to the growing sounds of the people in the lobby getting an opportunity to meet and speak with the performers that were there signing autographs and thanking each and every person for attending this charity event that would secure funds for the Music programs for the local California Schools that were underfunded and underappreciated. Every penny raised from ticket sales for this evening’s performance was being donated to the children and their music programs, in hopes that they would get the chance to see their dreams come to life.

To hear the music of The Damon Castillo Band, go to their web site http://www.damoncastillo.com/, their most recent album “Laurel Lane” is available online for purchase and as a download. If you like great music from great performers, you will not be disappointed, and be hard pressed to find an album as soulful as this one.

Bravo Damon!



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