Tower of Power leader Emilio Castillo figures the last New Year’s Eve he spent in his native Detroit was in 1961, just before his family left for the West Coast.
But he’s looking forward to being back next week to usher in 2009.
“My father has a big family, and they’re all there” in Detroit, says the 58-year-old saxophonist, who’s helmed the “urban soul music” group since 1968. “I’ll be seeing everybody when I come in. We’re gonna have a little reunion the day of the gig, which’ll be great.”
Tower of Power had its own reunion this year, too, celebrating the group’s 40th anniversary. Held that the Fillmore in San Francisco, the show featured special guests such as soul legend Sam Moore as well as alumni from throughout the group’s history, including “Saturday Night Live” bandleader Lenny Pickett and current Santana keyboardist Chester Thompson.
“It was really a lot of fun,” Castillo
recalls. “It took me about three weeks just
to come down, I was so pumped from it.”
Tower of Power will release a DVD of the show in the new year, as well as a new album called “The Great American Soulbook.” The set features an array of R&B covers, ranging from the obscure (Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match”) to well-known favorites by Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Billy Paul and Tavares. Guest vocalists include Moore, Joss Stone, Tom Jones and Huey Lewis, while George Duke produced four of the tracks.
“We’ve always had the music — that’s always been the driving factor for the band,” says Castillo. “We didn’t put this band together to do a certain fad of music. We just love this kind of music and we make it real selfishly. We make it to please ourselves.
“And we noticed a real long time ago that when we’re pleasing ourselves, the fans love it. So that’s what we’ve been doing, and it’s a lot of fun to do.”
Tower of Power and David Sanborn perform at 9 p.m. New Year's Eve at the Sound Board in the Motor City
Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $55 and $45. Call (866) 752-9622 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to