Casey Driessen is here Friday with The Greencards. Mei caught up with him for this cool Q&A. He's a real unique artist - check out the video and don't miss the show!
Where and when was your first show?
I really don't remember first show—I've been playing since age 5.5 and gigging since 13. But, I do remember my first fiddle contest at age 6 and that's pretty close. It was the National Old Time Fiddle Championship in Weiser, ID. My family drove from our home in southern MN across the country in my dad's little hatchback. I'm pretty sure we stopped at Mt. Rushmore. I also recall eating a whole bag of Oreos in the back seat with my 1yr old sister and being pukey sick the next day. Anyway, the contest is huge and there are many age divisions. I entered the "Small Fry" group and played my three tunes. For the "tune of choice" selection, I went with Pop Goes the Weasel in which you pluck the strings on the word "pop"—pretty fun for a kid. Well, I ended up getting 20th out of 45 kids. Back at home we received the judges score sheets for evaluation. Apparently plucking the strings was considered "trick fiddling" and I was docked points. It's a tough world out there!
What band/artist would you consider to be your main influence?
I have so many influences and refuse to pick a main one. In no particular order: Stuff Smith, Stevie Wonder, Van Gogh, Hank Williams Sr, Darol Anger, MC Escher, Vassar Clements, Stephane Grappelli, Kenny Baker, Dali, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Tim O'Brien, Béla Fleck, Tony Rice, Oumou Sangre, D'Angelo...there are so many amazing musicians out there....
What is one of your most memorable or off-the-wall touring experiences?
It's got to be touring Tibet on a nationally sponsored cultural mission with a group I was part of called the Sparrow Quartet (Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck, Ben Sollee). Lhasa, the capital, is 12,000ft in elevation. Upon arrival, our hosts took us to the famous Potala Palace—which is breathtaking, but it's all stairs and it really did take all our breath—the guide soon just left us in his dust. Being a politically sensitive area, we were instructed not to accept anything from anyone—it could be a letter asking for asylum and if folks were caught trying to communicate with us, they could be punished. While walking around I noticed us being followed at times and I'm still unsure what that was about. On a lighter note, I saw many beautiful monasteries and ate lots of yak. We traveled around the 'country' and at each stop, shared the evenings with local musicians, collaborating as well. One long drive took us through spectacular mountainous scenery and left us stranded with two flat tires. To kill time, we invented a game called "Sink the Poo" in which you toss a yak pie (they were plentiful) upstream and try to sink it with rocks. Interestingly, the next town had a tire repair shop....The culmination of that drive was the honor of being the first foreign performer at the Linzhi Animal Husbandry College in its 30yr history. Not too long after this trip, China closed Tibet to foreign travelers and I feel fortunate to have been there. There's so much more to tell...find me sometime.
Favorite Food: Red Raspberries
Favorite Drink: 100% Fruit Juice and Single Malt Scotch, but not mixed.
If you were to have a film/movie based on your career, which actors or band would you select to portray yourself?
Bill Murray? Michael J. Fox? Denzel?
What two words would best describe your music?