What do you call a guitarist known to some as a "white Buddy Guy," whose vocals sport a grit that conjures Otis Redding and whose songwriting comfortably spans rock, R&B, and blues? You call him a survivor. Tommy Castro has reigned as one of the Bay Area's top guns for more than a decade and has done so with a lot more than just his monster blues chops. Inspired by mid-'60s San Fran blues émigrés like Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, the San Jose-bred Castro was probably moved by the Bay Area's strong R&B legacy as well. His rock-solid vocals are classic blue-eyed soul, and he and his writing partners deal out fine, reliable fare. Castro's eighth and most recent disc, Soul Shaker
, has been widely touted as his best to date, with tunes that evoke the Boss more than B.B.