Tower of Power ready for spotlight

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Tower of Power will play its own songs when it opens for Journey and the Steve Miller Band on June 28. (Submitted photo)

Tower of Power will play its own songs when it opens for Journey and the Steve Miller Band on June 28. (Submitted photo)

By Joseph Knoop

The soulful tunes of R&B horn section band Tower of Power – famous for its years backing up Huey Lewis & the News – will arrive at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville June 28, and the band wants to remind fans what is, in fact, hip.

Founded in 1968 by Emilio Castillo and Stephen “Doc” Kupka, the band originally performed only covers. But Kupka said he preferred to play B-sides or singles, rather than the hits everyone had already heard before and performed better.

By 1970, Tower of Power signed a deal for its first album, East Bay Grease, with Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records. Eighteen albums later the band has a well-honed sound that will make them stand out on their summer tour with Journey and the Steve Miller Band.

Over their careers the band has fought to play original songs instead of covers. And that fight has led Castillo to try and impart some lessons to younger musicians.

Castillo, who received music lessons both excellent and poor when he was first learning to play, said he’s a vocal advocate for music and arts education.

“Certain schools have really great programs,” Castillo said. “I noticed in my kids that every other subject got better after they started taking music lessons.”

Castillo’s education never stopped, however.

“I’ve used what I learned on a hands-on basis with each band,” Castillo said.

It’s no surprise that with each bit of wisdom gained over four decades that some things have changed, including the manner in which the band creates new content.

“Nowadays, everybody’s sobered up, so we make an appointment. We talk a while, maybe pray, then start writing,” Castillo said.

He is actively involved in his church, spending much of his time with his family there.

With the band’s storied history also comes a number of lineup changes. Tower of Power’s new lead vocalist Ray Greene recently joined the band at the beginning of the year. And the results have been seamless

“We get to know who they are as people, what kind of principles they have,” Castillo said, referring to the band’s process of accepting new members. “When you hang out on a bus so much, it’s very easy to grow close.”

Though their tour with Journey and the Steve Miller Band will take them all over the country, he said he’s looking forward to the show in Hamilton County.

“The Midwest is real rock ’n’ roll territory. Kids were raised on it,” he said.

Tower of Power with Journey and the Steve Miller Band ● Klipsch Music Center ● 12880 E. 146th St. in Noblesville ● 6:45 p.m. June 28 ● Tickets start at $35 ● For more information visit livenation.com

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