Tower of Power set for Symphony on the Prairie


Emilio Castillo has a simple explanation of Tower of Power’s staying power.

The soul survivors, who were founded in 1968 in Oakland, Calif., will perform at Kroger Symphony on the Prairie at 8 p.m. June 29 at Conner Prairie in Fishers.

“God did it,” said Castillo, the band leader and founding member of Tower of Power. “We just showed up. We stayed true to our sound, making the music exactly the way we wanted it to be, not chasing trends or trying to reinvent ourselves over and over again. That makes it really easy to go to work each day.”

The band started when Stephen “Doc” Kupka made his first appearance in Castillo’s group, then known as The Motowns in August 1968. Castillo, second tenor saxophone, and Kupka, baritone sax, are the band’s primary songwriters and key to the five-man Tower of Power Horns.

“We just knew we wanted to do this as long as possible but never imagined we’d make it this far and in this great shape,” Castillo said.

In 2018, Tower of Power had its first No.1 on the Billboard charts in jazz and contemporary jazz in June 2018 with its album, “Soul Side of Town.”

“When I started out, my vision was just to be able to get to Sacramento, so I’ve far exceeded my wildest dreams,” Castillo said. “The charting of our recording was a wonderful thing in our 50th year. We’re definitely blessed.”

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the band is in the midst of a huge tour.

“I’d say this is the most ambitious touring we’ve embarked on in years,” Castillo said. “We’re hitting it hard, and at our age that can be a challenge, but we love it and God makes a way for us.”

Castillo said there are certain songs that are must on the setlist, depending on the stop.

“We absolutely must play ‘What Is Hip?’ ‘You’re Still A Young Man’ and ‘So Very Hard To Go’ in the (United) States (and) ‘Soul With A Capital S’ and ‘Digging On James Brown’ internationally,” he said.

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