If you go
Fourth Annual Bonita Blues Festival
Who: Rex Bongo and the Cornbread Brothers, Sean Chambers, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, The John Allender Band, Greg Nagy, Delta Highway, Motor City Josh & the Big Three, Albert Castiglia
When: 4 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 12 and 1:45 to 7p.m.,Saturday, March 13
Where: Riverside Park, 10451 Pennsylvania Ave., Bonita Springs
Cost: $10 Friday; $15 Saturday. Two-day pass in advance, $20
The history books say that the blues were born in the North Mississippi Delta following the Civil War. This 12-bar musical form had influences that included African music, field hollers, vocals from the church and crude instrumental backings for primitive dance.
There is not a style of instrumental or vocal music that the blues have not touched. There is a universality about it, and that’s likely one of the reasons the Bonita Springs Blues Festival is heading into its fourth year. Everyone loves the blues. And, at one time or another, everyone has the blues.
The Bonita Springs Blues Festival, on March 12 and March 13 at Riverside Park, with entertainment literally going on all day on both days.
The quality level of national and local attractions — this year including Chicago’s Nick Moss and the Flip Tops; Michigan’s Motor City Josh and the Big Three; and, from Florida’s East Coast, Albert Castiglia — is another reason the event has been so successful and eagerly anticipated.
“The idea for the festival came as a result of two Bonita Springs’ couples attending the Pine Island Music Festival in November, 2005. They were so impressed with the caliber of music at the event they thought it was a shame Bonita Springs did not have a comparable music festival to utilize the newly built band shell, and newly renovated Riverside Park,” says Michael Pfeffer, president of the Bonita Blues Charitable Foundation, the sponsoring organization
“The four began work the following week to determine what it would take to put on the event, and decided the proceeds from the event would be used to benefit local charities. It is our way to give back to the community that provides so much to us.”
Pfeffer credits the success of the event to “the commitment from our hardworking volunteers, dedicated sponsors and advertisers, and our partnership with the City of Bonita Springs. And the event is a family affair, attracting people of all ages.”
In terms of the crucial talent issue, the artists are selected by a committee headed by the festival’s founders, Frank and Kim Sennish, and Len and Diane Eckert. They begin screening talent in September for the March show and listen to more than 150 bands.
This year, the talented guitarist/singer Albert Castiglia, a Miami native, has been chosen to fill the coveted “closing spot,” last on the festival bill, appearing Saturday at 7 p.m.
Castiglia, child of a Cuban mother and Italian father, moved to Miami when he was five. He started playing guitar at the age of 12, and as he has said, “I soon realized that the passions in my heart were best expressed by music.”
In 1990, he joined the Chicago Blues Authority and won the “Best Blues Guitarist” Award from New TImes magazine in 1997. In 1996, he toured as lead guitarist with legendary harpist/singer Junior Wells (Wells worked with everyone from Muddy Waters to The Rolling Stones), a position once held by the famed Buddy Guy.
A one-time social worker, Castiglia became a full-time musician when he joined Wells on New Years’ eve of 1996.
“I make people happier playing the blues than I did handing out welfare checks,” he says.
After Wells’ passing, he joined Atlanta Blues singer Sandra Hall, then began a solo career, and has recently released his fourth CD.
Of his connection to the blues?
“I don’t know why a white kid from a middle class family would feel a connection to the blues,” he explains. “But I did. I was a loner, so maybe that’s why I liked the blues so much, because the message is about rising up from your loneliness.”
One listen to his latest CD, “These Are the Days,” confirms that he is an authentic blues guitarist and singer who embodies and respects the tradition and history of one of this country’s oldest musical forms.
And, yes, you can hear it clearly, that Castiglia has the blues. The music-loving public is lucky he does.