By Abigail Fazio
Northern Virginia local and John Lennon Songwriting Contest finalist Casey has created buzz over his recently released self-titled CD. Although struggling to find the balance between real world responsibility and his music career, the inspiration behind his album, he continues to eagerly pursue his dream.
Casey’s song, “Boy with Guitar,” submitted to the John Lennon contest in October of 2009, has placed a spotlight on his talent. Having learned that he was a finalist in March, Casey says it was a great honor to be recognized in an international competition. He had decided to submit “Boy with Guitar” because he felt the lyrics were strong, and the song was in the requested format. Apparently the judges agreed.
Before submitting to the contest, Casey played frequently for family and friends, but now, being recognized by music professionals gives him a boost of confidence.
“Boy with Guitar,” was rewritten after Casey met with a producer at a professional recording studio. The producer advised that Casey needed to make the song more unique, and Casey did just that.
Describing his songwriting process, he says, “I will write down ideas for lyrics, let it sit, and then come back to it.” Still, Casey recorded the album in a short period of time, with some songs being one-time takes. The album started out as more of a sample demo.
The creative part of it all is what he enjoys most. “It is difficult to juggle the business and [promotional] side of the music,” Casey confesses. “I would love to someday have someone work on that so I can just focus on the music.”
This young musician grew up in Herndon and attended a local high school. Casey’s passion for music was evident early on. He remembers his mom playing the piano, with him listening and playing along. He also played the trumpet and was involved in school bands, eventually taking up the electric guitar as well while still in high school.
After high school, Casey left home to attend Virginia Tech. During his time in college, he played music for and with his friends. He began to play some gigs on campus. Experimenting with songwriting and melodies, he eventually landed his own steady gig every Tuesday night at a local venue, “Pedro’s.”
“That was a good time to experiment and learn about music,” Casey recalls. He knew that he wanted to continue to do music on the side, and see where it took him.
Casey spent several years post-college “fighting the real world,” as he describes it. He traveled to the West Coast, Australia and many places in between.
“At the end of the day, San Diego didn’t feel like home. I missed the seasons.” Like many of us experience at some point in our lives, Casey was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
“I love to write and sing my music, but sometimes I wonder how far it will go,” he says.
Now back in Northern Virginia, Casey has been married for two years and is expecting a baby girl in October. While facing his real world responsibilities, Casey continues to find time for his passion for music, continuously searching for the balance between these two worlds.
“My wife is way more supportive than I even expected; she is my biggest support system,” His wife is from Northern Virginia as well; they met and dated in the area.
Casey has successfully booked several NoVA gigs. The highly respected music venue/coffee shop Jammin’ Java, in Vienna, had Casey play at the end of August—something Casey considers a huge accomplishment.
Casey describes his performances as “just me and my guitar.” With only his guitar, harmonica and strong vocals, Casey leaves the audience wanting more.
The talented artist says it is tough choosing the songs to play at his shows. Casey has limited time on stage, so he wants to make each song count. “I want to pick songs that the crowd will get into. Some of my songs are slower paced, but I’ve gotten positive feedback from them.”
“To the Good Soldiers” is an example of one of these songs. Although it is slow, Casey dedicates the song to all the good soldiers out there and reports that it has been well-received by audiences.
Casey didn’t always hit the ground running. “I put my guitar down between 2001 and 2008, only picking it back up a few times.” Casey had started an organization with a friend and then began to question what he really wanted to do with his life. Over the years, Casey has tried various different jobs, always finding himself coming back to his guitar.
“We all question that,” says Casey. “And using the guitar and songwriting helps a little with trying to find the answer”. And his persistence is paying off. Casey’s music will be on Pandora in October. Casey is also continuing to spread his work through iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
Casey’s songs are metaphors of his experiences. For example, he says, at first, “Rockstar Voodoo” sounds like a struggle between lovers; however, he reveals, “This song reflects the balance of my job and daily life with my music.” In the line, “Miss you, wanna kiss you,” he describes those times in his life when he was missing music.
With his metaphorical songs getting ever more popular, Casey recognizes the fact that the concept of being a rockstar is put on a pedestal. He wants to strip away this sensationalized image, and get back to the music itself.
As for where he’s going, although Casey enjoys living in the Northern Virginia area, he sees his family moving even further from the fast-paced life of the city.
“It is tough in the Northern Virginia area to be a musician and want to eat at the same time,” jokes Casey. “The Northern VA area is a great place to live. I’m no different from anyone else in needing to provide for myself and family.” “If you get caught up in a career based on how much money you make, it’s hard to get out of it to pursue what you truly want to do,” Casey cautions.
Casey’s message to people who, like him, are interested in pursuing their passion: “You can balance a career while pursuing your dream on the side” While you’re young, travel, experiment and experience all you can, before it becomes more difficult to do so. It can still be done later in life, but just done a little differently.”