When Jeff Castelaz hit college at Marquette University in Milwaukee he immersed himself in music. He wasted no time becoming a DJ for the radio station WMSE, became a member of the concert committee, and got a position as the music editor at the weekly paper.
“Those three positions set up everything else in my life,” Castelaz told Amplify.
At just 18 years-old, Castelaz was balancing all these gigs and setting up concerts and interviews with impressive emerging acts like Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. These various jobs led to Castelaz being introduced to a band called Wild Kingdom at an in-store performance.
“I nearly passed out because Wild Kingdom was a local Milwaukee band that I had shredded in the paper,” Castelaz said. “They were really popular. They drew thousands of people, but I shredded them for being all performance and no songs. Turns out (the lead singer) wasn’t mad at me and wanted to talk to me a lot. He said ‘My band is looking for a manager. We figured getting someone who is a writer to manage us is a really good idea.'”
Castelaz jumped at the chance to manage the band and has never looked back as his love for music coincided with his burgeoning career.
In recent years, Castelaz has found himself part of another passion project. His son Pablo was diagnosed with cancer and his friends, family, and colleagues were checking in on Castelaz’s family constantly. He had recently lost a brother to cancer and discovered that people would be hurt if they weren’t kept up to date with the going-ons of a sick friend. So Castelaz created a blog with consistent updates about Pablo to keep everyone updated on his son’s condition without having to field dozens of phone calls, emails, or text messages a day.
“People started reading and asking ‘where can I donate?’ Pablo’s mom and I decided to not have people donate to some charity that might be using their money for nice offices,” Castelaz said. “Let’s start our own thing and when we get Pablo back to school, we’ll give away all the money. Pablo never went back to school.”
Pablo passed away in 2008 and the Castelaz family wanted to d something to honor him.
“When he passed away I didn’t know what to do with myself so I decided since I’m a cyclist, why don’t I ride my bike across the country and make a hell of a lot of noise, visit kids in hospitals, and do radio interviews,” Castelaz said.
With his ex-wife, Castelaz started the Pablove Foundation which donates money to cancer research and helps improve the lives of families and communities struggling with childhood cancer. Through various fundraising efforts including Pablove Across America cycling experience which features 50 sponsored riders who raise money and awareness each year.
“We’ve given away $2.2 million in research grants for cutting-edge research. We do $50,000 seed grants for young researchers,” Castelaz said. “It’s almost like an indie label. We are funding people who have really renegade ideas who are not experts in fundraising.”
He added “We’ve really relied on the music business and the entertainment business to donate and get the word out. And just for being behind us.”
When Castelaz isn’t riding his bike for his charity, he is running Cast Management in Los Angeles that prides itself on a team atmosphere to build creative ideas for its clients.
“It’s the job of me and my colleagues here at Cast Management to collaborate with our clients on their career vision, and to guarantee the delivery of that vision,” Castelaz said. “This is an all-hands, all the time job. Ideas are everywhere – it’s our job to catch those ideas when they come out of the artists’ mouths, and to sound out our ideas with our artists.”
We caught up with the Cast Management founder to find out about five shows that have had a lasting impression him.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble at Oriental Theater in Milwaukee
Dec. 7, 1985
I recall this being my first real concert. Some older kids from my neighborhood took me. The utter power of Stevie Ray and this band was clear to me even though I was 12 when I went to this show. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a staple on rock radio in Milwaukee at the time. I knew that nothing else on the radio sounded like him. What I didn’t know was how visceral and stunning his live performance would be. There was no light show, no visual effects. It was four musicians bleeding each note of each chord. And, of course, Stevie Ray’s voice – which, to this day, brings me to a Holy Spirit conversion. I recall that we were in the back row of the balcony – as far from the stage as you could be. Still, to this day I can FEEL the metal of his guitar strings clanging against the wood of his Strat. The genie really came out of the bottle for me at this show.
Pearl Jam at Varsity Theater in Milwaukee
March 27, 1992
Our concert committee at Marquette University promoted this show. It was special in every way. I had already interviewed Eddie Vedder a year before, when they were the last minute opener on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magic tour. The Smashing Pumpkins were the middle band. Pearl Jam’s debut album hadn’t been released yet. The PR person at Epic Records had sent me the advance cassette of Ten and it blew my mind. Ed was telling the story of my life in his lyrics. By the time our MU show came around, they were gaining a lot of momentum – but, improbably, no radio station in Milwaukee was playing them. It seems insane, but we paid the band only $2,500 – and they were carrying a RAT Sound system. They turned down a $25,000 offer from the venue down the block, because it was important to Ed that they play free shows at universities. The day of the show, I drove Stone Gossard to music shops around Milwaukee – he was in search of a new Marshall head. During the encore of the Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling,” Jeff Ament put his bass on my brother Dean and pushed him onto the stage so he could jam with the band. Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin drove up from Chicago for the show. He played on the encore as well. I interviewed Ed at the show. The magnificence of Pearl Jam was fully formed by the night of this show. It was clear to me and my friends that they were conveying the angst and ills of our generation, and that they were just at the start of something.
Smashing Pumpkins at The Unicorn in Milwaukee
June 10, 1992
I was lucky enough to have interviewed Billy Corgan on my college radio show before soundcheck this day. After the interview, he and I walked to the venue. This show was part of a mini-tour of the Midwest they were doing to play the songs they’d written for their second album. At the end of the tour, they were traveling to Atlanta to begin recording with Butch Vig. The album would be called Siamese Dream. At soundcheck, I heard him play “Disarm” – just him and the psychedelic Stratocaster he played back then. My body froze up hearing that song for the first time. Like Pearl Jam a few months prior, the lyrics were describing my life to a point where I felt Billy had been reading my diary. That night, I distinctly remember feeling that the bands I was into had my back, and were giving voice to the hurt and powerlessness I felt, and that many of my friends felt. Even – or especially – in this tiny 150 capacity club, the volcanic power of Smashing Pumpkins was on display. The show was riveting, loud, unshackled. It was a moment.
Jane’s Addiction at University of Wisconsin Ballroom
Nov. 29, 1988
The first thing you need to know about this show, it was free. Tickets cost $0. I have no idea who opened, and I have no recollection of getting to the show or leaving. What I remember is being in the middle of the pit, trying to stay alive, trying to get close to the band, trying to watch Perry’s every move. This band was massive for me. They told stories of Los Angeles. They painted a picture of a world where newscasters lied, where sex was a vicious tool for some people, where the truth was not always to be trusted. Their album Nothing’s Shocking was a nonstop presence in my life at this time. And, really, it was and is a prophetic album. Everything Perry was singing about in 1988 is the reality of our society in 2018. On this night 30 years ago, I witnessed a band performing its purest function: to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice.
Dropkick Murphys at Various Venues
I’m not the most objective person on this one, since I manage Dropkick Murphys. The reality is: they are one of the best bands ever. I’ve seen them at least 100 times, all over the world. The first thing you notice is that the audience is up for it the minute they get into the building. The connection this band has with its fans is familial and real. The connection the fans have to the songs is almost religious. Dropkick Murphys’ fans live through the music in a way I’ve never seen with a band that has literally never relied on radio hits. Regardless of the native language where they are playing, the fans inhabit Dropkick Murphy songs. At festivals in Europe, the band can often hear the audience singing over the PA. I will see hundreds more Dropkick Murphys shows before I’m put in the ground, and each time, I can’t wait to see how the show will feel, how the audience will do their thing – which, with DKM, is as much part of the show as the band is.