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david castle.net

Richmond Music Journal  December-January 2005

By Steve Effinger

Last summer I traveled to California to play guitar on a tongue-in-cheek blues song called “Double Done” by david castle for his new CD, “Music for Your Soul.” Earlier this year, I saw him perform with Steve Bassett and Michael McAdam at the Greater Richmond Convention Center for a Douglas Southall Freeman High School reunion gala (Castle graduated from Freeman in 1970.)

We’ve been friends since the early ‘70s so it was great seeing him again. He told me about his project and when he asked for my help, I agreed without hesitation. The experience was inspiring. His new CD started as an idea to release what he felt were his best songs from the past 30 years. In the process, he contacted many of the musicians he’s worked with over the years to see if they’d be interested in recording with him.

To his pleasant surprise, not only were they interested, they enthusiastically expressed a great fondness for the material and memories of working together. Steve Bassett and Gary Gerloff are just two of them.

Castle’s music is a renaissance of pop. He received a Grammy nomination for writing and performing “Istanbul Blues” on the “Midnight Express” soundtrack. His song “Ten to Eight” from the Helen Reddy album “No Way to Treat a Lady” went gold. He recorded two albums for Parachute/Casablanca Records and Filmworks entitled “Castle in the Sky” and “Love You Forever.”

He’s toured with the Monkees lineup of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart, playing keyboards and backup vocals. He’s performed on the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” for more than 14 million viewers throughout Europe. He’s conducted the London Royal Philharmonic. He’s been in a movie with Bill Murray and another with Cheech & Chong. This is just a few of his accomplishments.

He doesn’t do covers usually, but he does a killer version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What.” You can read about him at his Web site, www.davidcastle.net

After high school, where did you go?

"I went to VCU, majoring in music theory and composition with a minor in cello. But during spring break, I took a trip to Memphis where I met Jerry Peters, a songwriter and producer, who wrote “Going in Circles” and “Love Me or Let Me Be Lonely.” He later brought me to Los Angeles to cut some records. He was a staff producer for RCA and was producing the Friends of Distinction and The Sylvers. He was also A&R director for Jerry Butler’s label, Memphis Records. That’s where I met him."

"Unfortunately, nothing came of my first trip to Los Angeles, even though Jerry tried. I continued to go out there on college breaks. I decided to attend Emory & Henry College in Emory for a semester. During that time, I was offered a production deal in Los Angeles, so I went for it. I began selling my songs, first to MGM and then United Artists. They eventually signed me as a staff writer."

You’re working on a CD now?

"Over the years, I’ve witnessed the healing effects of music on people. My greatest hope for the new CD is that others will experience healing through my music, whether it’s just enjoying a song or experiencing a life transformation as a result. As long as the music helps someone get through their day, my mission will be accomplished. My goal is that the music is beneficial."

"The CD is also a tribute to the many musicians and the talented recording engineers I’ve worked with over the years. For them to work with me honors my music, so there was this wonderful exchange of energy during the making of the album."

"A young filmmaker, Carrie Carnevale of 17 Films, asked permission to make a documentary of the making of the CD. She began filming last May and has been documenting the CD’s progress ever since."

Who’s the engineer?

"John Kovarek, one of the finest, most talented and visionary in the industry. He’s co-producing the project with me. I love working with him. He’s one of my oldest, dearest friends who has stood by me through thick and thin. He’s worked with Paul Buckmaster, Stevie Nicks, Marvin Gaye, Belinda Carlisle, Melissa Manchester, Laura Branigan, Lisa Stansfield and many others."

Will you be performing in Richmond again?

"I definitely plan to come back when the CD is released and bring my band, the amazing Jerry Sommers on drums and the gifted Rick Tierney on bass. All of us have played with the Monkees. That’s how we met. Jerry also worked with Ronnie Hawkins, Dee Murray, Paul Butterfield and was once Ringo Starr’s drum tech. Rick has worked with Alice Cooper. I love visiting Richmond, seeing old friends and making new ones."

Why do you spell your name in lower case?

"A simple matter of gratitude. I’ve been so blessed in this life with so many gifts; my ability to compose and perform music is just one aspect. I’ve always seen myself as an instrument through which the music and other gifts can flow. Out of gratitude and respect to the universe, I spell my name in lower case."

[Editor’s note: But we don’t.]

What are your musical influences?

"Many, and I feel blessed to have lived during this time period. The Beatles, particularly McCartney and Lennon, Bee Gees, Alan Parsons Project, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, all of the Stax Records artists, Carole King, Boyce & Hart, Davy Jones…and classically, Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Dvorak, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein."

Was playing for The Monkees a positive experience?

"It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’d been writing with Tommy Boyce and he asked me to go on tour. I was just blown away by the whole experience, beginning to end."

"Tommy was a great friend and I became friends with Bobby Hart and Davy Jones, too. I liked Mickey and wanted to get to know him better, but during the tour, he was always busy writing science fiction stories."

"One night the spotlight hit Mickey just so on stage and something about it inspired me to write about him. So I wrote “Space Child” as a tribute. An R&B group from Chicago, Weapons of Peace, recorded it back in the ‘70s for Playboy Records. I’ve re-recorded it for the new album, so I’m excited about that one in particular."

Closing thoughts?

"I’d like to thank everyone who has ever helped me in my music career, no matter how small. This project is my way of giving back and saying thank you from my heart and soul to all the people in Richmond where I grew up and around the world who helped me. I hope this CD lifts you up and helps you through the times of your life. My love and light to everyone, everywhere. My thanks for your support and encouragement. Bright blessings, peace, love and brotherhood!"

The album “Music for Your Soul” will include a new song, “Richmond Town.”

Re-printed with the kind permission of The Richmond Music Journal. Visit RMJ online by clicking the following link: The Richmond Music Journal.