Tribute concert set for Dave del Castillo, whose death shocked music, sports communities


What: Fully Crazed, Rival Gang, Knife Manual, Skid Marxists
Where: Logan’s Pub, 1821 Cook St.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $10 (minimum donation)

Friends and family of Dave del Castillo knew where they stood with him, on account of the sarcastic comments he always had at the ready. That was his roundabout way of telling those close to him that they mattered. That he loved them.

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“You knew that you were loved by Dave if he made fun of you,” said his wife, Tara del Castillo. “If he constantly made fun of you, then you knew. And it was constant.”

Castillo died of a heart attack Jan. 15, at the age of 48. His passing sent shockwaves through the Victoria skateboard, soccer and music communities. His was a full life, a constantly revolving calendar of kids’ activities and backyard barbecues.

That was how he liked things — loud, boisterous and full of passion. A proud family man with four children, Dave was prone to giving big bear hugs. In the many hundreds of social-media posts following his death, he was always smiling, or with his arms around someone he cared about. “He left an impact on people he met once,” Tara said.

It was strange, at first, his obsession with taking photos. But now that he’s gone, Tara is happy to have reams of photographic reminders from practically every day they were together. The living-room wall of the couple’s house in Oak Bay is floor-to-ceiling full of photos today, held over from an impromptu wake just days after his death.

The collage of more than 100 photos from various points in their life together serves as an important reminder, Tara said. That he was loved. And that he loved in return.

“He always wanted to bring joy to his friends,” Tara said. “He always wanted it to be a fun time.”

Dave, an electrician by trade, had roots in Uruguay but was raised in Victoria, where he spent the majority of his life. He is closely identified with the early punk rock and skateboard communities in this city — his magnetic personality put him at the epicentre of both for nearly two decades.

Tall and handsome, with a giant laugh and permanent smile, Dave would often joke about his visage to his wife of 20 years, referring to his face as “the money-maker” even though, deep down, he never thought he was good-looking, Tara joked.

Dave created a social circle of immense strength and dedication. He could lose touch with someone for years and still consider them a close friend; ambivalent wasn’t part of his language. Connections he made had legs for life. “I think I have a lot more support right now than a lot of people have, because of that,” Tara said.

Close friend Heather Johnston, who has started an online fundraising campaign in support of the family, said Dave “nurtured friendships in such a way that I’m not sure people know how to do anymore.”

The fundraiser quickly hit $30,000, with more coming in by the day. A tribute concert in his honour is set for Saturday night at Logan’s Pub, with bands featuring several longtime friends, and the proceeds going to his family. The event is expected to be at capacity well before a band takes the stage.

Dave spent five days in the hospital following a heart attack last year, which changed him, Tara said. It was the first time she could recall that he didn’t want to see friends as often as he normally would.

He wanted to exercise more, but couldn’t find a routine that stuck. Some days, he felt like he was letting his family down. But there was hope his health would become a priority again.

“We were planning on running in the TC 10K [in April],” Tara said. “But he was having some problems — he was not well. He kept saying: ‘I’m probably going to die from this, but everyone is going to come and look after you guys.’ ”

It even got to the point where he was suggesting songs she could play at his funeral. That was a private side few got to see. He was proud, and didn’t want people worrying needlessly, Tara said. “It scared him. But even through it all, he was still messaging people, to see if they were OK.”

His intuition was bang-on — friends have rallied in staggering numbers around Tara and the children, Elias, Mia, Diego and Benicio.

Longtime friend and former Victoria resident Stephen McBean, of the Los Angeles rock outfit Black Mountain, spent a week sleeping on the family’s couch following Dave’s death. The news was a big blow from which he has yet to recover, McBean said. “There was definitely a comfort in being there at the house,” he said. “It was very sad, but there was lots of old friends and stories. When I got back to L.A., I kind of flatlined.”

McBean and Dave played together in the early ’90s punk band Onionhouse, which is around the same time Dave, an engaging frontman, started dating Tara, following her move to Victoria from Calgary. The community that grew out of the music and skateboard scenes in Victoria unofficially revolved around Tara and Dave, who for a time was known as Dave Knight, after his mother remarried.

“He was the glue for a lot of people, from friendship to soccer to family to punk rock,” McBean said. “He took the piss out of life a bit, and shared that passion with friends.”

Few could move as easily between punk rock and skateboarding and youth sports, but Dave managed to straddle the lines with ease. He would often meet a group of fellow supporters at the Irish Times pub on Sundays to watch his favourite soccer team, Liverpool, play on television. The soccer club’s official theme song, You’ll Never Walk Alone from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, could often be heard blaring from the del Castillo house at all hours of the day.

“He would get up in the morning, and no matter what anybody had to do that day, like sleep, he would crank that song,” Tara said with a laugh.

Dave, a longtime champion of youth soccer, became president of the Lakehill Soccer Association in the 2013-14 season, and implemented a no-cost spring league — Alma Libre Futbol Association — for youth under 15.

Though he obtained a B.C. Gaming grant to fund the free league, he coerced McBean and Black Mountain into playing a benefit concert in Victoria to help raise more money.

“He was someone I always highly respected,” McBean said. “I would always get really excited if he dug something I did musically, but he was also the first one to call bullshit if what I was doing wasn’t working. He was always stoked on what his friends were doing. He was always there to cheer everyone on. That’s something I’m going to miss.”

There will be a public service for del Castillo at 1 p.m. on June 5 at Royal Oak Burial Park (673 Falaise Dr.), followed by a reception with music — of course — at the Victoria Edelweiss Club (108 Niagara St.).

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