Born prematurely, Juanito’s retinas were burned in the incubator but, in spite of this, his parents sensed Juanito’s artistic gift from a very early age, nurturing his multi-instrumental ability until Juanito got old enough to make his own creative decisions. Now a young man, Juanito is trapped between what he wants to be (original) and what society expects of him (to remain traditional to Conjunto music).
With the 2010 death of Juanito’s mentor and dear friend, accordion legend Esteban Jordan, some expected Juanito (who played drums for Jordan for two years) to carry on Jordan’s legacy. But Juanito also wants to record a CD of his own music.
While recording an album with Max Baca (Los Texmaniacs), Juanito kept growing and developing his own style at “the lab,” Juanito’s studio at a guesthouse behind his parents’ home, and the place from which he plans his “escape.” In typical Juanito style, he is satisfied but not thrilled with the resulting collaboration with Baca, and is determined to record another one, this one on his own. Before that happens, he goes to Los Angeles to meet and jam with Argentine producer and composer Gustavo Santaolalla (multi-Grammy, Golden Globe and two-time Academy Award winner) and other LA-based musicians. Upon returning to San Antonio, he embraces fatherhood and promises to deliver the album of his dreams: “Do you want Juanito’s Lab? I’ll give you Juanito’s Lab.”
“Juanito Castillo is a blind musical virtuoso who accepts no limitations on his creative impulses. Juanito’s Lab captures Castillo as he struggles to meet the burdens as well as the opportunities that come with his own musical restlessness. It’s a rare cinematic portrait of the artist as a young musician, learning to harness his talent and cope with the high expectations of those around him.” (Gilbert García, San Antonio Express-News)