JamTrotting the Globe ~ Uniting Music, Travel & Cultures

INTERVIEW: Randy McDonald – Bass

Randy McDonald - Bass

Randy McDonald – Bass

RANDY McDONALD was born in Harrisburg, PA in 1959 and grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. He began playing the bass early on, becoming an “in-demand” musician by his teenage years. Randy’s range has been from straight-forward jazz to rock, blues, and R & B to soulful music! To this day he continues to play his way through a variety of melodies.

During Randy’s tenure with The Dynatones…the nationally touring, six-piece blue-eyed soul band, he befriended (now long time friend and band mate) Tommy Castro, Dynatones popular guitarist. Not long after leaving the Dynatones in 1991, Randy got an invitation from Tommy to join the beginning version of what is now transformed into the “Tommy Castro and the Painkillers” Band…one of the most celebrated roots music groups performing to this day. Randy appears on 7 of Tommy’s albums and has toured the world playing a variety of music. Randy has also toured along side such greats as BB King and Buddy Guy and a host of other incredible top musicians in their field aboard the LEGENDARY BLUES CRUISE! Randy McDonald is truly one of the hardest working Bass Players touring today!

Randy McDonald and Tommy Castro with the Painkillers 2015

Randy McDonald and Tommy Castro with the Painkillers 2015

1. How would you best describe yourself and your music as an artist?

Very Lucky, as you know we can’t all do exactly what we feel best suited to do. In this way I’m blessed. Again lucky to create music that reflects my soul and character.


2. What are your current musical endeavors?

New record out with Tommy Castro “Method to my Madness”.


3. When and where did you first discover the love of your instrument and How did it FEEL being on a stage the first time?

Started on trumpet, my fathers instrument, took up bass because I wanted to rock and every other kid with a hard on wanted to be the guitar player! My first time on stage was horrible. I was supposed to be reading but didn’t quite have it down. I was playing a duet, my brother was on accordion. I felt naked and scared.

4. What were your greatest influences as a musician?

I’m influenced by anyone that doesn’t compromise.

5. How has your music evolved and expanded over time?

Slowly, I really feel good about an easy simmering groove so I really don’t advance much until I write something new or occasionally am inspired by a groove or a feeling. Then I step out a bit and I guess evolve.

6. What’s the cultural difference in playing locally and overseas? Or between cities and countries? no comment

7. Do you ever Jam off the cuff with local musicians and what’s it like interacting with your jam fans? If not, why?

I often jam with folks on the Legendary Blues Cruise Open Jams and always enjoy the smiles when we are all in a nice groove and on equal ground.

2015 Concert, California

Tommy Castro and the PainKillers – 2015 Winery Concert, California

8. Please tell us about your favorite or most memorable musical career event?

Any day on tour with BB and Buddy, I would watch these two tear up night after night.

9. What is it like touring? Being on a big stage with all the lights and people? Do you prefer large or small venues?

After all the years, I still love every aspect of touring, the anticipation of creating a show each night.. You don’t necessarily need to start fresh but the result will more often than not, be something different. I love that! Although a small venue can have incredible energy, there is nothing that compares to the big stage/audience. It’s a great rush, I really feel alive.

Randy McDonald doing his famous pose on Legendary Blues Cruise

Randy McDonald doing his famous pose on Legendary Blues Cruise

10. Do you have any suggestions or tips to JamTrotters on how to carry their gear when traveling on bus, train or planes? TSA? Regulations?

Take the stress out of loss/damage anxiety. Carry stuff you’re not too attached to or better play backline. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. No matter how far flung the gig, you may be seeing those same people sooner than you think.

11. Is there anything you’d would like to share with JamTrotting travelers…tips about places, restaurants, clubs, sights, etc.?

We just completed a five week tour. 32 shows in 36 days, 4,000 miles. It was relatively uneventful and everyone kept their cool right to the last note. Cool heads prevail, worrying, wining and bitching is amateur. Consider your stamina, self control and tolerance before you embark on any journey where you may be relying on the character of others in your party. Also consider the comfort of those traveling with you. Always make the best of things. If you don’t dig it relax, it will pass and you may learn.

*Speical thanks to Kathy Rankin Photography for the head shot!

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