Local musician releases new album

Hollow Bones in Monotone, the new album by local musician Chris Castle, draws on the songwriter's long and colorful history. He's gone from a 16-year-old getting paid to write songs in Nashville to a 31-year-old married man drafting lyrics on Lake Erie, and his newest work is garnering him near-national recognition.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


Hollow Bones in Monotone, the new album by local musician Chris Castle, draws on the songwriter's long and colorful history.

He's gone from a 16-year-old getting paid to write songs in Nashville to a 31-year-old married man drafting lyrics on Lake Erie, and his newest work is garnering him near-national recognition.

Castle grew up in New London, where he went to school until his sophomore year. After hearing about Nashville venues on an episode of "60 Minutes," he decided to send a demo tape of a song he wrote to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. "Being 15, I was fearless," Castle said. "I sent them a cassette, and they said 'hey, you have some potential, why don't you come play for us?'" From there, it was only a matter of convincing his mom to let him go.

Castle was hired as a staff songwriter for Terry Rose Music at age 16. He spent the next five years playing in bars and filling his quota of writing six country songs per month. The songs he wrote would go into a pool of work, along the company's other writers, to be considered by record labels. The best songs would be chosen for demo recordings, and Castle's songs often made the final round. None were released by artists, however.

Working right in the center of the country music scene, Castle often ran into famous country stars. "In studios, I found myself rubbing elbows with people like Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt or Faith Hill" he said.

Despite the glamour, Castle wasn't entirely happy with his job. "I'd get frustrated with Nashville because it took away my artistic freedom. People took my writing more seriously in coffeehouses." Fed up, Castle left. "I walked away from that to be a better songwriter. I was an impulsive young man," he said. "And that was the best money I ever made from music."

Returning to Huron County, Castle played at a benefit concert in Monroeville. He met his future wife, Julie Smith, in the audience. They now live in Peru, south of Norwalk, with their three children: 10-year-old Chase, 5-year-old Whittley, and 2-year-old Emaline.

Castle began writing songs for Hollow Bones in Monotone last winter. Despite his country background, the album is Folk Americana. Besides singing, Castle plays guitar, bass, and harmonica over the CD's 11 tracks.

Even before the disc was released, Castle was chosen as the June artist of the month on the popular folk music Web site Folkalley.com. Castle recorded the CD at OMNIsound studios in Nashville, then released the album on July 7 07-07-07 a coincidence that Castle admits was accidental.

Only days later, Castle entered the song "Both Ends of a Gun" in the Granite State Songwriting Contest, where it won second place. The song mentions Lake Erie, where Castle spent much of his time writing songs for the album. On July 8, New Hampshire Public Radio invited Castle on the air for an hour-long interview following one his performances as he toured the state.

Although he's released four albums, Castle said Hollow Bones in Monotone is "the first one I can listen to all the songs and really be happy about."

Chris Castle isn't the only one in his family with a career in music. His brother, Jamie, owns Castle Music in the Norwalk Korners Plaza. Jamie also played drums in a band with Chris when they won the Ohio Music Festival in 1998.

Castle has taken the year off studying at BGSU Firelands to promote his new album. Even though he can spend several weeks at a time traveling the country and playing gigs with his bandmates, Castle said he will always live here near his family. Still, he often has to be away from his wife and kids. "A lot of my life is spent in a '99 Dodge van with two other grown men. Luckily, I have a very patient wife," he said.

Copies of Hollow Bones in Monotone are available at Castle Music or on Chris Castle's Web site, dirtsandwich.com.


BB (Anonymous)

Nice article, Adam. Chris is an interesting fellow. Local treasures are sometimes hidden from the locals. Did you know that we have several police officers in town that play in rock & roll bands?

anonymouse (Ano...

Chris is a real talent. If you get a chance check him out, he is very good. Good going Chris.

average joe (An...

Great article. I am excited to pick up the disc. I hear it is only $10 !! Is that correct?
I think I will shoot over to Castle Music and grab one!

J Voorhees (Ano...

I'm a long-time fan of Chris Castle and his new CD is pretty amazing.

Steve T. (Anonymous)

I watched the guy grow up, and heard him sing since he was just a kid in New London. Judging by the songs on his myspace- he's really grown into his own with these new songs. I just bought the cd. Can't wait to hear the whole thing.


Good going Chris! Remember to use the secret chord!! Everyone needs to stop by Jamie's place and buy Chris' CD...and something else!

When you are at Jamie's...buy a ticket for a chance to meet Matt Kean. If you are the lucky ticket holder you will get an autographed DVD of the Beatles opening for Matt during his European/Asian tour!

If you are truly the LUCKY one...you can get a deal for lessons with Matt!!!...only $14 per lesson! Pay for a year in advance so the Evil Anti-Progressive Love of Music Stymien Creative Influence Squelching Spirit can not raise the rent on you!!

Matt does not teach you...he wills the skill of six string onto you! And it doesn't wash off!

Good luck Chris...Nashville is just a city...the music can come from anywhere!



pluggin away (A...

hey matt- nice plug for the shop!did i read that right?the real beatles opened up for a band u were in??????hey jdnltlh-is this true???

Becky Absher (A...

I knew Chris when we were in school in N.L.- This proves if you have heart about what you do- you will succeed. I'm glad life is treating you well, Chris! I hope many successes for you!

Jim (Anonymous)

Great article. Chris has been playing at the OB on Thursdays, and I heard someone there mention that he's shooting a video for "Both Ends of the Gun".

He has worked hard at this for a long time and he deserves all the new-found recognition. Way to go, Chris!

Willie Nelson (...

Look at this guy. This is a great man. A man who never...ever, turns his back on the living water.

gas guzzler (An...

can anyone explain to me why the price of gas is as much as 30 cents higher , per gallon in Norwalk , than any other area?? i wont spend my money foolishly .. please , give me any logical explaination for this ?? i won't be buying any of my gas in Norwalk , until they realize that i won't be taken advantage of any longer , and they lower their prices to a more competetive range .. i am asking you all to join me in this , and together we can , and we will make a difference... thank you

Jogger John (An...

Who is Matt Kean and what does he have to do with Chris Castle and the price of gas in Norwalk?? I did hear a rumor that Matt will be playing with the Angel Foss Band at Cabana Jack's Aug. 11th. I'm going to run over there.

JEF (Anonymous)

Thanks for the heads up. Nice "toe-tappin'" tune!

Check him out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w...

get real! (Anon...

first of all-i don't think the beatles opened up for matt.this is crazy!do you even know matts age?how about the beatles age?you need to quit spreading false info!furthermore,i would really like to hear some of the REAL stories about how chris has really been living his life!! how many kids doe's he really have?my family has known chris for quite sometime now.lets just say-sometimes things are not what they appear to be!all smoke& mirrors maybe!i wonder how many jobs he has had in his life!you know what i mean?times when one isn't sponging on other family members or other people in their life!funny-maybe he should write a song about true friends&family.and get a REAL steady job!oh that's right,he can always lean on his brother!now jamie is a family man!and can hold a steady job too!imagine that!!

video (Anonymous)

geez-don't ya know,anyone can shoot a video, or make their own cd nowadays!if you can't do it on your own,there are several guys around that can,for a fee of course.

phil spector (A...

Ok, video, let's see you do it. We'll be waiting.

oh please! (Ano...

Maybe this article should have interviewed Chris's "very patient wife" and asked her how patient she's been over the last few years when he hasn't been around to be a husband or a father. Coming and going as he pleases for weeks at a time and her not even knowing where he was or when he would be home. Yeah, great guy! I wouldn't spend one penny on his music no matter how good it is. Maybe this paper should get all the facts before glamorizing someone who wouldn't even get a job to support his family.

re;phil (Anonymous)

we did make several videos.and we paid for every one of them too!

re:please (Anon...

Finally, someone making some real sense!It is truley amazing the way some issues are "glammed up"!When your an insider you really know some of the truths!

RE:Phil (Anonymous)

If you really would like to know the truth,we have even had 2 of our songs play on 2 different radio stations.One is a college station.Unfortuneatly, it's very hard to get paid decent money around here to play live.Hey-I just remembered that would be 3 radio stations!I forgot,brain lapse-sorry!

Castle Fan (Ano...

Don't know about his family life, I do know that his song both ends of a gun, is great. The video was professionally done and really good. Dont know him personally but I do know that one song is awesome.

phil spector (A...

Where can we see these videos and hear these songs? I know a number of people who are making decent money playing music "around here". I don't know Chris Castle well enough to defend him but it seems we have some haters on here. Sounds like envy to me.

you tube (Anonymous)

go to youtube.com and do a search for Chris Castle.

you tube (Anonymous)

if you like the video you can buy the cd at Castle Music, not a relative or really care if you buy it, just some guy who really liked the song. The mandolin is a really nice touch

Re:Phil (Anonymous)

First of all, the videos are in the hands of the band members.Second,those radio stations have mainly played those songs by random.I will say though-twice one of the guys called the rest of the band up & told everybody that we had a certain time slot.And he was correct.Not being nosey, but honestly where are these local places that are paying decent money around here?Please tell me, I'm intrested in knowing this.I only know of one,& that is not even in Norwalk.Checked into the deal about the Town&Country theater after Scott Seitz had a clip in the paper recently.That was a big joke!This was a day after the article was printed too.A battle of the bands thingy.You had to pay a fee{ which let off a lightbulb effect in my brain}but one of the guys checked it out anyway.Turns out he was told it was cancelled due to poor management.Furthermore-I hope your not implying that I'm envious of Chris, because he is Not even in the same class as one of my mentors!Just a note-you should'nt be so harsh as to say people on here hate him.Afterall, you did state that you don't know him well enough!

to phil (Anonymous)

I know I like his new album, what does you mentor have to do with this story? How do I check out your or your mentors album and video? I sincerely would like to hear it Don't slight this guy (Castle) I just got off Folk Alley.com this guys album was the 3rd highest rated song and he was artist of the month. I don't know exactly what that means but he must have some credibility somewhere. Oh yea his video is and song is great.

Beth (Anonymous)

Whoever wrote that about him being a bad father and husband is just dumb. Anyone who knows anything about bands knows how time comsuming it is. I'm sure she and the kids are happy he is following his dream. Success does have a price. Why do people have something bad to say about EVERY single good thing that happens to someone? Perhaps they are jealous. I don't know him, but if my husband wanted to follow his dream, I would support him all the way.

re:re;phil (Ano...

Who are your mentors? We would love to hear them, since we can't hear your songs or watch your video.