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About Handsome

Recording at Handsome

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The Backdoor Men

Terry Hartman

Clifton Beat

Inner Ring Conspiracy

David Borucki & The Brown Shoe Revue

Mark Bluhm

Butterfield 8

Paul Nickels

Owen Mason

Alex Hanhauser

Leroy Fail

John Castrigano

Dee  Deprator

Peter Laughner

John Castrigano

Grace by John Castrigano

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John Castrigano... Where to start? Let's just say that John may be the single most talented artist to have ever entered Handsome Studio, where he recorded his debut album, "Grace," in 2014-15.  But in truth, that's not where it started - John was in fact one of three Cleveland Heights brothers who comprised the core of a spunky little band called The Breakaway Thrill. (All of the three brothers were and are ardent soccer players, thus the band's title - you know, you get the ball in the clear, and off you go to score a goal. It's a "breakaway thrill.")

The brothers, along with a revolving cast of drummers, keyboardists, and even a horn section, began playing covers and originals by John, and they got around - playing regular gigs around town and attracting a loyal fan base of family and friends. As time went on and the boys got older, they began to float off to college and assume "adult" responsibilities, and things slowed down. But John kept writing and Paul kept playing the guitar, even as he went off to Harvard for his own college experience.

 Meantime, Handsome proprietor Paul Nickels was working as an administrator at a Catholic school in Lakewood when he was approached by a faculty member who had heard he had some involvement in rock & roll and also had the ability to record (at that time, the Handsome studio was in Nickels's Lakewood attic). That faculty member was Dan Castrigano. Dan asked Nickels if he'd be interested in recording his brother, and Nickels was up for anything. John duly arrived at Handsome to begin recording demos. Well... This guy could write, and he could sing. And thus began the making of "Grace."

 While "Grace" wasn't released as a Breakaway Thrill album, it certainly involved the core of that band - all of the bass playing was the work of Dan Castrigano, and tons of great guitar work was added by Paul Castrigano (Paul came to be known as "The Secret Weapon" during the making of "Grace"; he is a phenomenal guitarist). The three core musicians were augmented by several different drummers, including John's cousin, who was tremendous.  When it was all over, John had made himself a beautiful record, featuring 11 originals. The CD is available for purchase at the Handsome Store. Unfortunately, it has not been streamed.

There were numerous outtakes from the "Grace" sessions, which Nickels later mixed and finished and which may someday see the light of day. In the meantime, after some years in Houston following his graduation from Harvard, Paul Castrigano, aka "The Secret Weapon," is back home in Cleveland and living in Tremont. The brothers are playing again. When COVID finally disappears, find 'em and see 'em. You won't regret it.

Paul and John Castrigano
John and Paul Castrigano.

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