Tuesday, September 30, 2008
As a kid, nobody could have had a better best friend. Adult too.
I'm sorry I spit in your mouth. (actually I can't believe you thought it would just hang there)
Don't worry Brian, Dad will turn off our radio when he goes to bed.
Monday, September 22, 2008
(Sorry, those of you on the right sides of these photos got cut off due to insufficient column width - click on each photo to see the full frame.)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I don't think we've met. My name is Elizabeth Lessner, I am local restaurateur and I knew Brian when we were teenagers. I just wanted to share a memory of Brian with you if you would like to add it to your blog. Thanks for making it, it is so hard to read but beautiful.
I met Brian when I was only 15 years old. He was two years older than me and we spent every single day together during the summer of 1989 working on a play at the Columbus Junior Theatre. I have wonderful pictures from that time, I must find them. Most nights, he would borrow his father's car and we would sneak into Dick's Den to hear jazz. He taught me everything about jazz and I loved learning from someone so passionate.
At the end of the summer I moved away and we kept in touch writing letters for a while. Ten years later I moved back to Columbus and it was like he'd become a Columbus celebrity. I loved searching the weeklies for his name and his many bands and musical affiliations. I loved riding the bus past Dick's Den hoping to see his name on the window. It's been years since we've spoken, it occurred to me to reach out to him when a mutual friend was talking about him recently. I'm sorry for what I missed. His wit, kindness and brilliance is what I remember most.
My heart goes out to you and Brian's friends and family during this very difficult time.
I can’t make sense out of the senseless. I keep trying and it just doesn’t work. At these times, more often than not, I turn to music. And there’s Brian again.
Brian loved music and loved being a professional musician. He often worked multiple jobs so that he could continue doing what he loved. Imagine that – putting that much time into something just for the privilege of doing what you love so that you can do more of it. I can barely tolerate doing one thing so that I can do something I like, but Brian remained in a different league so he could BE a professional musician. I admire him for that and I don’t know too many people – maybe none – who would do that.
We all have our favorite Casey tunes. “Scientists discover nightlife on Mars” and the other version of the politically corrected title “Aw Heck, Let’s Go to Mars” are both up there. “Don’t you methyl with my ethyl” is mine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung that while I pass Chemical Abstracts, Bethel Road (because it rhymes), or a chemistry lab – which can get kind of annoying when you work near a chemistry department.
His music found its way to kings, presidential candidates, barflies, brides, and babies.
I try not to say the phrase “Words can’t express how I feel” because its disrespectful to poets. Brian had the luxury of being both a poet and a musician. He could say things with and without words. He could complete silent films with his thoughts, bringing them alive.
Reading his FaceBook page, he lists a number of bands and releases where you can hear his music. He also says that his music plays in his living room, kitchen, car, and head. Just this morning, we listened to a new composition that used a cell phone set to vibrate, license plates, guitars as percussion instruments, and others instruments that I hadn’t heard of – yet he commanded.
I got a kick out of reading who he lists as his musical influences. Ellington and Mingus, Brian Wilson and Tom Waits. You’ve got to like that. He also lists the architects Corbusier and Xenakis, the numbers pi and phi, and silence. That’s Brian.
You could probably also throw in Mike Myers and Monty Python. He loved a joke. I don’t know how many times he’s seen Austin Powers, but he could quote chapter and verse of those movies and insert them at the oddest times. He never let the formality or appropriateness of a time dictate a punch line, and I really loved him for that.
Brian’s inside jokes -- and he had thousands of them -- gave people a quick connection to him, like you were “in” with him very fast.
Brian was a good musician because he loved being a musician. He was a good uncle because he loved being an uncle. He would write music for his nephews Henry, Sean, and Ryan, and his niece, Emily, often. I think he knew that you guys will grow out of toys, but grow into music. Henry and Emily, Brian loved you very much and loved playing with you too. Be sure to share Brian with Sean and Ryan as they grow up.
He had a unique bond with each of us. Those inside jokes helped. Its part of what makes it so hard to say goodbye. He was so many things because he loved being all of those things to all people.
The world got a little less musical on Monday.
The world got a little less poetic on Monday.
The world got a little less funny on Monday.
Brain, we miss you deeply.
I wasn’t going to write anything, as I wasn’t someone who knew you intimately as a friend, roommate, or collaborator, but it occurred to me this week that you must have touched the lives of thousands of people in your lifetime, creating a web of connections, and I’m just one of those strands, but perhaps my remembrances will help fill in a few holes, and trigger a few other memories.
I remember you and Steve and a group of other players playing at Victorian’s Midnight Café, after being inspired by another jazz player’s system of and signals to communicate during a piece. You’d point to tell someone to solo, give another player the finger to tell them to stop soloing, and built whole pieces on the fly via improvisation. During one piece Steve’s phone rang, and I thought he’d ignore it, but he answered it, and passed it to you and that became part of the piece. The keyboardist did a fantastic solo that ended with him playing the keyboard with his nose while making chicken sounds. I could tell that everyone on stage was having a great time playing, and making music.
I remember a gig at the Distillery with Steve and others. halfway through the first set someone threw something at you from the bar. Ever the gentlemen, Steve issued a warning, followed by an offer of a round of drinks for the guys who had just been so rude, but when a bottle flew minutes later and hit an instrument, the gig was over. Such was the life of a giging musician in the campus area.
I remember coming to see the Brian Casey quartet playing in the basement of Donatos on a weeknight. Gina Jacobs was running the till, and I think the two of us got an almost private show. I had been listening to early Chet Baker, and the quartet had the ability to weave counterpoint in the same way Chet did, through a set of original tunes. I imagine there were a lot of almost private gigs like that. It clearly wasn’t about the money.
I remember lots of gigs at Dicks Den with Honk Wail and Moan. I learned that they never started quite on time, and that when they did, they’d always start with “Moanin”. The break between sets might seem as long as the first set was, but the music was worth waiting for.
I remember a Sun Ra gig at Little Brothers. The hall was pretty dead when I got there, but at about 10PM, it seemed as if the whole crowd from the dance concert that had been going on the same evening came down, and the energy flowed from the audience to the stage and back again. Jim Capeletti did a movement improv at the foot of the stage, and Jordan Fuchs came over to stick a dollar down his pants, as if he were a stripper. If your fellow musicians were your biggest fans, then dancers must have been a close second.
I remember so many dance concerts with your music: SadFish with Stacey Reichman, Dither with Gina Jacobs, Tere O’Connor’s Dance Downtown piece with your crazy songs that you called “pop songs”, but were anything but. I remember you standing in the middle of one of the Sullivant Hall studios halfway through a performance and saying “special sensors placed under your seats during the first part of tonight’s performance have been gathering data as input to allow us to present you with the most pleasing music possible for the second half” And then you did a lovely Baritone solo.
I remember stopping by Lillian Gray’s house once, and the two of you were engaged in a songwriting session. I think you played me a selection, and I said “It’s not done yet, right? There’s no chorus!”, but I was wrong. You embraced the music as it came, and didn’t force it to fit the mold. I think that’s one important lesson that I learned from you: that you shouldn’t color within the lines, and should accept the accidents as treasures, Straight lines might look nice at first, but the ones that bend a little because they were drawn with a human hand are more interesting in the long run.
The other thing I learned was fearlessness. You were never afraid to share your creative work, sing, dance, wear loud shirts, cut your own hair, or play a new instrument in front of people. I think that if someone had handed you a bassoon, you would have been happy to be on stage struggling with it a week later while playing a new composition. “I’m an artist,” John Lennon once said, “and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it” You did that with every instrument you touched, I think.
To whomever is handling the Casey music archives, two requests: there’s a recording of “Marla”, a Mary Adam 12 outtake from their first album in Brian’s collection somewhere, but he wasn’t interested in go rummaging around in the past, only looking ahead. It deserves to be heard. I can still hum “Under the Hudson Street Bridge” from the Brian Casey quartet shows. I hope some of those tunes were recorded. There are so many more. Please tell us that those musical moments weren’t ephemeral, they were too good to only be heard once.
Pity those of us left behind, as we’ll have to make do with a musical universe that’s a little smaller without you. We can only hope that wherever you are, you have your wry smile and horn with you, and are busy writing new tunes for a new audience.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I called the right guy.
For about a year Brian and I met at Stauf’s countless times to put the show together. We laughed a lot. Brian had a sharp understanding of the play, and seemed to know a period song to suit every mood and thought in the show.
Brian and I worked for almost a year on our show A Midsummer Night’s Swing, or It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Dream, but, as always, the final weeks of rehearsals were rushed, and many of the arrangements that were performed were never finished on paper, including his original piece for the show, “Titania’s Lullaby.” It was beautiful, and I hate to think it’s gone.
The show was a big success, and working on it forged a friendship between Brian and me that stayed strong despite rarely seeing each other. I was surprised and thrilled, years later, when Brian dropped out of nowhere and onto my front porch for a birthday I had years later; we had no friends in common, really, and it had been ages since we’d talked. Brian knew that he wouldn’t know anyone there, but he came, alone, and was funny and sincere and fantastic. He had a great time. Seeing him was the highlight of the night for me.
I got a call from Brian a couple of months ago. Whenever we talked we talked a lot; it seemed that despite years between conversations, we had never really lost touch. Brian had an idea for a play and was looking for a playwright to help edit, or maybe to collaborate – I wasn’t sure which. I was excited about the chance to work with him again. His idea was to splice Waiting for Godot and Peanuts. Of course.
Honestly, I didn’t get it at first, but he was so excited I jumped in with him. After re-reading Godot and reading lots of Charles Schultz, it made sense. Alas, I lacked follow-through. I thought there would be time later. Nothing came of it, as far as I know.
(I’d be interested if Brian discussed this idea with any readers of this blog, and whether he ever pursued it. I’d love to know more about what he had in mind or had come up with.)
Last week I was considering what show to choose when or if I return to directing theater. I decided the show to do would be our version of Midsummer. I thought about how I needed to give Brian a call.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Daniel Kelly and I invited Brian to contribute a composition for us to perform sometime around 1999- we rehearsed it and performed it live once or twice. Our intention was to do some kind of project performing his music- it didn't materialize only because we were busy and got sidetracked, something Brian never would have done apparently when it came to getting music off the ground. Anyway, we laughed our asses off playing that piece. It called for forearms on the piano and all kinds of crazy shit. Brian had a way of injecting stuff into his pieces that was totally out there and also seemed perfectly natural. He would acknowledge kind of matter of factly with a relaxed smile that yes, in fact, that was what he intended. And whatever we did with our interpretation, he was always easy to please and quick to compliment our efforts. Brian came to a rehearsal and hung with us. He was a really cool guy and a really nice guy, and his dedication to the music needs no affirmation from me
He set the standard high for all of us as musicians- he didn't just talk about it, he created new music all the time. I can't count the times I sat in stunned admiration watching Honk Wail and Moan, thinking, these motherfuckers are really doing something here. I guess that had a lot to do with Brian's initiative, energy, and those guys must have really respected him to play those gigs for $10 at Dick's Den for so many years....
I'm sorry I didn't get to know him better. Brian gained my utmost respect. He created so much that we all have shared and will continue to share.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
did you ever remember
how we collected
outside the first grade doors
those few precious days
and we gathered them
into yellow piles
mindful of their splendor
and the feel of the waxy surface on our fingers
We laid claim to those few
that delighted us
in some random way
capturing some detail
to those who did not look
Then we collected
over the years
just the details
the absurd and the looking
in the precious days
that we remembered
all we had to make
was just our yellow piles of leaves
So I collected some for you today
a new store in my neighborhood
with a stenciled sign
“TV repair and groceries”
a fat man with an empty
in the middle of traffic
oh and I learned
how to draw penguins
from a library book
Though we won’t be leafing
I will share them with you still when I am
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Thursday September 18th
2417 N. High St.
Columbus , OH 43202
Friday, September 12, 2008
If you have photos you'd like to share, you should be able to include them directly in your post, or insert an HTML link to another site as well. If you have trouble, you can email them to me and I'll include them in my set - we'll get everything on here somehow...
As many of you know, our friend Brian passed away earlier this week. Below is the obituary from the Columbus Dispatch, as well as a couple of other related links. I think we're all still in shock, but I've already heard many stories about Brian in the last few days that are definitely worth remembering - hopefully they'll all make their way here to be shared with everyone.
Brian A. Casey
CASEY Brian A. Casey, age 36, Monday, September 8, 2008, at his residence. Graduate of Bishop Watterson High School (1989) and The Ohio State University (1993) with a B.A. in Music. Founding member of Honk, Wail and Moan, a local jazz and swing band. Survived by parents, James and Judith Casey; brother, Michael (Linda) Casey; sister, Susan (Jonathan) Frantz; nieces and nephews, Henry Frantz and Emily, Ryan and Sean Casey. Friends may call Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at EGAN-RYAN FUNERAL HOME, 403 E. Broad St. Memorial Mass Friday 11 a.m., at St. Timothy Church, 1088 Thomas Lane. Private interment Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Columbus Music Coop, 2895 Neil Ave., Apt. 390A, Columbus, OH 43202. Visit www.egan-ryan.com for condolences. Sign the online guestbook at www.dispatch.com/obituaries
Article on Cringe.com (click here)
Article from the Columbus Dispatch (click here)