Thursday, July 9, 2009

Casey Shea: The Time Machine

Close your eyes for a moment and picture this:

You’re sitting on a soft patch of grass nestled within the intricately wrapped streets of New York City’s Greenwich Village. The year is 1968, and splattered around you on this warm, breezy summer day are artists of every shape and style. Guitars hang loosely in the laps of the emerging singer-songwriters, fingers strumming softly, voices singing boldly as the sun blazes high above. It’s a simpler time. Love and peace are not jewelry adorned because they’re “trendy,” but symbols of eternal hope and spirit. Beliefs about what the world should be drip organically through honest, stripped music and your soul feels pure joy in listening to these singer-songwriters convey their stories, sometimes subtly, sometimes loudly and brazenly. Your mind is at ease, your heart is full, and your body softly sways to the light, jubilant music of the folk-rock scene.

Now open your eyes and listen to a Casey Shea song… Tell me how you feel.

Casey Shea is the ultimate time machine, using classic sounds from the guitar and drums to make music in its simplest form. Heavily influenced by The Beatles since first seeing Paul McCartney perform at JazzFest at age 12, Casey has developed a uniquely vintage composition of songs that depict a love and appreciation for classic rock. From the soothing, airy “Roll Your Windows Down,” recently featured on “One Tree Hill” to the quirky, animated “Lartigue” that effortlessly gets the crowd moving and shaking, Shea brings an aura to the stage that produces beaming smiles during these troubled times.

A contagious grin spreads on this singer-songwriter’s face, as he reflects on the path that brought him here. Always a singer, it was not until college at Florida State University that he recognized the need to nurture a career in music and songwriting. Abandoning a place on the university golf team and forming a band with another teammate, Casey plowed down the melodious road and never looked back. A hopeless romantic who credits wife Langhorne as the secret to his success, the natural jokester also finds unadulterated pleasure in making crazy, humorous videos- the complete quintessential package of a well-balanced artist: love, laughter, and immeasurable talent.

Since arriving in NYC five years ago, band names like Casey Shea and the Amorous Monks, Casey Shea and The Cows Come Home, and Casey Shea and The Worst Band Name Ever, have become synonymous with Shea’s unconventional approach to music and life in general. In discussing the multiple name alterations, Shea slyly claims, “I can deal with it for one show no matter how good or bad it is. I never have to commit to anything.” The band now consists of a solitary name- Casey Shea- and set members, all fellow musicians and singer-songwriters, include: Jeff Jacobson (guitar), Gilbert Gilmore (guitar), Wes Hutchinson (bass), Jamie Alegre (drums), and Michael Leonhart (keyboard, horns, the “X” factor).

In January 2009, Shea combined forces with Wesley Verhoeve of Family Records to introduce the public to a catalog of solo works. Not wanting to have one big record release show and then be done with it, Casey and Wes questioned, “How can we put out this music in a unique way?” The answer: The “ABC’s” Singles Release shows, a multitude of performances booked at different venues over the course of the year, each featuring two professional recordings and one informal demo made at home- the A side, B side, and C side. The concept, another throwback to the past, quickly garnered a fantastically devoted audience following.

The key to Casey’s success with the “ABC’s” is his truly humble manner in promoting and sharing his work. Shea offers all the music on his website- as free downloads, allowing fans to obtain the latest releases prior to the show. The site, creatively designed and executed by Jeff Schram, is user friendly and enjoyably interactive, showcasing Shea’s clever mind and innovative personality with colors, backgrounds, and even a font that resonates the same perennial theme. Casey’s blog is also part of the website, full of entries that help build reader interest and offer a true sense of the singer’s dynamic individuality. “My theory is if you put yourself out there people will respond,” he explains.

Discussing the method behind his madness, Casey laid out his approach to sharing music in the era of digital music: “In today’s world everything is easily accessible. People who don’t have the money or don’t believe they have to pay for [music] will find it somehow. So why not at least have it on my site for free? If you want it, please come get it. The more people have it on their mp3 players or hard drives the better.”

Musing over a time when people still had record players, this old-fashioned soul sometimes wonders where music is headed in the future. Shea’s main desire is to make a product that touches people, garnering a consistent aura of community, and let that take the lead. “At this point I just want to get it out to as many people as possible, encourage people to take it, steal it, and spread it around,” Casey admits candidly.

After being discouraged by the “every-man-for-himself” attitude of the Nashville music scene where he had previously pursued his career, Casey found the naturally helpful demeanor and sense of kinship in New York City surprisingly refreshing. “It makes a world of difference when somebody’s just nice to you,” Shea confidently states. Always promoting and spreading positive energy to friends and colleagues, Casey has developed a beautiful reputation of being one of the most generous artists in the business. Participating recently in Martin and Craig’s “Backscratch Sessions,” he observes how much talent there is in the small world we live in, and its ability to bring people together to grow in unity.

With the abundance of great music happening in a compact space, Shea speaks openly of each venues strengths: “At Rockwood Music Hall you can pretty much see a great act from 6pm-2am any night of the week. The Living Room- same deal. And Pianos has great margaritas!” he exclaims with a devilish smile, knowing his reputation for promoting the establishment’s infamously strong, tequila-laden drinks.

Casey Shea is unquestionably a staple in this NYC Artists Scene, embodying the spirit of classic music, blurring the lines between past and present, and creating an exquisitely harmonious device to transport audiences to the world as it should be.

For more information about Casey Shea please check out the following sites:

The 6th ABC’s Singles Release will be held this Saturday, July 11, 8:00pm at the Gramercy Theatre. Casey will be joined by fellow Family Records artists Matt Singer, Pearl and the Beard, and Wakey! Wakey! for a fantastic night of music. Come check it out!

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