Randy Casey – Tasteful twang
Randy Casey is driven like a man with a life’s calling; it just gets a little tricky trying to figure out what that calling is. He’s an outstanding cook, an avid sports fan, a gardener, and, yes, a musician.
He’s done arena tours as Shannon Curfman’s music director, recorded with Peter Himmelman and Billy McLaughlin, and released two solo albums of roots rock. He’s also scored plays and industrial films, and created “music beds” for department store advertising kiosks used by companies such as Levi’s and Vidal Sassoon. All of which might seem like a lot of push-and-pull between art and commerce, but the 38-year-old guitarist loves it all.
“A lot of musicians would scoff at the idea of producing music [for advertising],” he says over a bottle of wine and a pizza he made with tomatoes from his garden. “But my passion for food, my passion for sports, and my passion for fresh air — I’m passionate about all of these things equally. If someone says, ‘Can you produce music for whatever,’ nine times out of 10, I’ll say ‘yes’ and mean it. I look at a film, and the pictures themselves are inspiration enough for me to come up with a piece of music.”
Rather than distracting from his art, Casey says the commercial and film work actually fueled his third album, Say No More. “I thought, I’m writing all this music for other people to use in their projects, why don’t I just have my own project of my own instrumental music?”
The connection to his advertising work is tangible. The 11 guitar-centric instrumentals feel like a soundtrack without need of a film. They shuffle gracefully between the twang of “Take Manhattan” and the swamp blues of “Outside Dela Croix”, but they carry a surprisingly ethereal feel to them. Multi-tracked acoustic instruments — including National steel, mandolin, lap steel, and guitar (both 6-string and-12-string) — along with the very subtle use of a sampler, create the sort of visceral textures and soundscapes generally associated with electronic music. In a car, or, better yet, a Greyhound, it does for passing scenery what Ry Cooder did for Paris, Texas.
Though Casey played about 75 percent of the album himself, he was joined by an enviable list of artists, including violinist Jessy Greene (Viovoom, Jayhawks), pedal steel player Eric Heywood (Son Volt, Richard Buckner), guitarist/drummer Rich Mattson (Ol’ Yeller), and drummer Mick Wirtz (Bellwether) — people who just happened to be passing through his kitchen.
“All the sidemen who played on to this record came over to my house. We BS-ed, had a glass of wine, ate some great homemade food, and then went down to the studio,” Casey explains. “I got to ask my friends to come over more as friends than musicians. I really think that is what makes this album special.”