Guest Author - Chris Curtis
The Masters Stage at Grey Fox is an intimate setting in which to meet a performing artist. Sets generally follows a workshop format with audience participation allowing you to learn more about the performer’s style and influences. Casey Driessen’s set on the Masters Stage at Grey Fox was enthralling. A scan of the audience revealed a very attentive Abigail Washburn (Uncle Earl) and Megan Lovell (Lovell Sisters)
Casey Driessen currently plays fiddle with Tim O’Brien’s Cornbread Nation, which won a Grammy award in 2005. He is in a word – IMPRESSIVE. He has gained prominence as a powerful percussionist style fiddler with an amazing sense of rhythm. Driessen studied music production and engineering at the Berklee College of Music. His choice of Berklee came from a deep respect and desire to learn from Matt Glaser who chaired Berklee’s string department.
Clearly standing above the crowd, Casey distinguishes himself with what some may consider outlandish costuming such as the 3-D glasses that adorn his solo CD release "3-D", and his Red “Fat Albert” Sneakers that he wears while performing live. During the Master’s stage performance he made a point of discussing his affinity for both items in his wardrobe.
What was most interesting was his discussion about percussion techniques on the fiddle. He talked about the jazz influence of Django Reinhart and the progressive style of Darol Anger. Commenting about Darol Anger's innovations with fiddle percussion with his String Cheese Incident, Casey demonstrated the technique and illustrated the difference between his style and that of Darrols. He was quiet personable on stage and comfortable in the audience interactions. He joked about his worse habit being the tendency to play on his tippy toes. He fears someday he may just topple forward off the stage. If you have ever seen Casey play, the toe dancing is quite noticeable but yet, somehow it is quite endearing to his performance.
When asked, Casey explained why he plays a 5 string fiddle. He said it was a little larger than a C string – similar to a viola with added range that goes lower in sound. With it, he can play melodies in two different octaves. Clearly, with Casey's genius, he is able to explore well beyond the traditions defined by a standard fiddle.
Thank you Grey Fox for putting a spot light on this virtuosic fiddler. Grounded in Bluegrass but creatively innovative, Casey promises to continue to bring his unique sound to a variety of projects.
See pictures of Casey Driessen performance on the Grey Fox Master's stage here