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Thursday, June 15, 2006 01:28 am

One for Mom

Groove Daddies and Tommy Castro Band play benefit on Friday

When Gary Bloom received an inheritance after his mother died last August, he knew what he wanted to do with it. “Why buy a TV or a bunch of junk?” asks the big voice of local rockers, the Groove Daddies. “I wanted to do something that would really honor her.”
Bloom, an integral part of the Springfield music scene for decades, decided to hire a national music act and throw a memorial concert for Mom. He made it a benefit as well, planning to donate the proceeds to ALS research. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is the terrible, crippling illness that claimed the life of Mary Bloom-Beams, Bloom’s mother. The Groove Daddies were all on board to play, but for the headliner he looked to a blues musician and friend named Tommy Castro. Bloom first met the Blind Pig recording artist during a cruise featuring blues singer and harmonica player Delbert McClinton and other musicians. “Tommy was sitting in a hot tub ’cause his back was hurting,” says Bloom. “I told him how much I liked his music and said I didn’t want to bother him. He asked me to stay and talk ’cause everyone was leaving him alone, not wanting to bother him, so we started talking about music.”
Bloom sang the blues classic “Stormy Monday” with Castro’s band during the cruise and received one of the highest praises an artist can get. “He paid me a big compliment when he told me, ‘We don’t do that; we don’t let anyone sit in.’ That swelled my head up so big.”
Benefit plans include a silent auction of a Fender Stratocaster guitar signed that night by Castro and the sale of food and beverages. The appeal of the California bluesman seems to be universal. Bloom has received calls from as far away as Dallas and as close as most central-Illinois cities inquiring about the specifics of Castro’s stop in Springfield. But his music also touched someone else. When Bloom’s mom, who was known to “like a little of everything,” listened to the Tommy Castro Band play, she recognized the sound of a kindred spirit. “She heard Tommy once and she said, ‘That sounds like you guys.’ I said, ‘No, Mom, that’s just Tommy and the boys.’ ”

The doors open at 6 p.m. for the Mary Bloom-Beams Memorial ALS Benefit, on Friday, June 16, at the Food-A-Rama Building, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The Groove Daddies kick off the show at 7: 30 p.m., and the Tommy Castro Band continues the jam from 9 p.m.-midnight. Tickets, $15 in advance and $20 at the door, are available at Recycled Records (625 E. Adams St., 217-522-5122) or Thirsty’s Playground (1975 W. Wabash Ave., 217-787-7273) or by calling Dean Wilson at 217-541-6241.
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