Gino Castillo is an Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist, singer and leader of the local bands Gino Castillo Quartet and SoulFunKubanized, a tribute to African-American music that influenced a change in modern Cuban music in the 1970s.
Q: What made you want to plant your roots in the Lowcountry?
A: One night in 2010, I took a bus (from) New York (after being) hired to do a recording session in Charleston with one absolutely unknown Latino artist. He made me believe he was big and brought me here with false promise. After one really hard year, I fell in love with this beautiful and lovely city. Now I’m one more Charlestonian. I’m so lucky to be part of this great community.
Q: Have you been working on a project that you’re excited about?
A: We have the album “SoulFunKubanized,” which is very special to me. (It celebrates) several cultures ... playing African-American music on Cuban style with world class musicians from Charleston like Quentin Baxter, Charlton Singleton ... among a very large number of great local musicians.
Q: If you could choose anybody, living, dead or fictional, to be your mentor for a day, who would it be and why?
A: Mahatma Gandhi, because the way he removed the ego in his life, it’s an example of how we have to live our lives and respect each other no mater what.
Q: What’s your favorite hidden gem in Charleston?
A: A little Dominican neighborhood grocery store in Park Circle with the best sandwiches in town.