Music has been at the heart of almost everything we do. In a sense Leo Castro and I met through our shared love of music. I had been performing Roots music since the late 1980’s and in my role as lead singer of a small big band, Leo watched me strut my stuff in the legendary 100 club on Oxford Street where he would drop in when he made his occasional forays from Barcelona for work.
He tells the tale far better than I ever could (he has made grown men weep on occasion), ask him about it next time you’re in the barber’s chair. But in short, he held a little burning candle tucked away somewhere and found me a couple of decades later on Facebook through a musical friend’s page.
Leo got hooked on American Roots music the same way I did, via Elvis. For both of us in our different countries, we found The King (or he found us) at the tender age of 13. The other Three Kings brought Leo’s first Elvis album to him and I found mine in Woolworths. Fast forward a few years and both Leo and I became ever more involved in music in our individual ways. I got into the 1950’s London Rockabilly scene and thence to the 1940’s scene where I found my voice dancing like crazy to Black American Rhythm & Blues at the Fortissimo club. This became the foundation of my first band playing up-tempo, arse kicking, Honkers, Shouters and unapologetic dance tunes.
Leo began collecting vinyl after he was inspired, like many others, by the soundtrack of seminal movie American Graffiti. He carried on collecting and still collects obsessively to this day. Back in Barcelona he has about 17,000 records and CDs and very few days go by without another new CD coming through the post. He started a radio show Called El Ritual Nocturno which ran weekly for 27 years, only ending when he moved to London to be with some crazy singer. He became known as a serious collector, creating events, writing for the Spanish music press and supporting many artists and bands. He has compiled various Roots music compilations for specialist labels and this work continues here in London. He selects and pulls together the music and I research and write the liner notes.
Many of our customers are appreciative of the music we play at the barbershop. It’s a clear policy of playing Roots music from the 1930’s to the 60’s, with some funk and beyond for good measure plus the best of contemporary Roots artists. He has created some incredible Spotify playlists including contemporary Roots musicians and perhaps the most comprehensive playlist of Boogaloo and Latin ever compiled.
I continue to write, sing and record, with several new projects in the pipeline for this year and will be bringing more Balcony Sessions gig, DJ takeovers and other live music to Maltby Street this summer. It is no accident that writ large on the wall of the barbershop, are our some of our favourite record labels, old and new, as a testament to the music that has been and continues to be so important to us.
Enjoy our Spotify playlist here: