Former Parkite touring with Tommy Castro
March 6, 2012
When blues guitarist Tommy Castro brings his band, The Painkillers, to the Egyptian Theatre this weekend, his bassist/tour manager Randy McDonald will feel right at home.
McDonald cut his musical teeth in Park City in the 1980s.
He was a founding member of the Joey Boots & the Heels, a band that played at Park City Mountain Resort during Clown Days and at the Alamo, which is now known as the No Name Saloon.
"We played the Alamo every night for two weeks, and parked our school bus at Swede Alley," McDonald said with a laugh during a phone call from his home in North Marin County, California. "We ran an extension cord from the school behind Swede Alley and lived in our school bus."
Before landing in Park City, McDonald lived in San Diego, Calif.
"After high school and playing with several bands, I wanted to get the hell out of Southern California, because there were too many guitar players," he said. "So, this guitarist and I took off and went to his family cabin in Montana, with hopes of finding people to play with."
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Unfortunately, the two never found any prospects.
"He returned to California, but I didn’t want to go back, so he dropped me off in Salt Lake and I started ski bumming there for a couple of years," McDonald said. "Then he returned to Park City, and I caught up with him there, because apparently his great-grandfather was one of the silver miners and went from mucker to millionaire and had some property up there."
"That was 30 years ago," McDonald said. "We were rehearsing at the train depot on Main Street and used space heaters to warm up our fingers and legs and noticed we all were wearing holy cowboy boots. That’s how we came up with the band’s name."
One night a band called the Dynatones played in Park City.
"It was a six-piece, blue-eyed soul band and I was blown away," McDonald said. "I approached them and said my band would love to open for them sometime and gave them a demo cassette."
A few weeks later, the band leader, drummer Walter Shufflesworth, called McDonald and asked him to join the band. So, McDonald left Joey Boots & the Heels and flew out to join the Dynatones on tour in Milwaukee.
"I was projected into this national touring group and that first date and I walked into the club and the stage was being built on top of the bar," he said with a laugh. "I climbed into their little converted bus and read on the wall, "I know I’m going to heaven, because I’ve already been in the Dynatones.
"I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’" he laughed.
All was not lost, because Shufflesworth taught McDonald a lot about soul music.
"He would make me some tapes from his record collection and spoon fed me all this information," McDonald said.
During the decade McDonald was with them, the Dynatones took off and landed a deal with Rounder Records and Warner Bros.
"Warner Bros. sat on the record, and that put us in the hole and things started going downhill," McDonald said. "So I decided to leave the band."
Eight months before officially leaving the Dynatones, Tommy Castro joined.
"I told Tommy that he was the best raw talent that I had seen in a long time and if this doesn’t work out, we could get something going later on." McDonald said. "Six months later, in 1982, he called saying he was ready to start his own band."
For 15 years, McDonald played bass for Castro and served as tour manager, he said. The five years ago, he needed to take another break for personal and family reasons.
"It was a good break for me, and for the first three years I felt great, but the last couple of years, I started to feel that I was doing something against nature," he said. "I knew Tommy was making changes in his band, and I asked if he was ready for me to come back. He was and that’s where I am now."
Randy McDonald is part of The Painkillers, the back-up band for blues guitarist Tommy Castro, who will play the Egyptian Theatre, Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $30 and available at http://www.parkcityshows.com .