Featuring father Darrell Casey and sons David and Nathan , Watercarvers
Guild is an acoustic trio of multi-instrumentalist/singers who have
been playing together since David and Nathan were old enough to pick
up instruments. While they only decided to form into a three-piece
band in 2000, their lifelong rapport (not to mention their refined
skills) is evident from the moment they hit the stage.
Their original music draws on the complexity of bluegrass, the vocal
harmonies of gospel and country, and the good communication of… well,
a happy family, to create a group dynamic that is by turns playful,
earnest, warm and exhilarating.
And the fact that their onstage arsenal includes guitars, mandolin,
piano bouzouki, electric bass and three voices, Watercarvers Guild
has a habit of sounding a lot more than your typical folk trio. My
kids grew up in an environment where music was something real, something
you did – not just something you pushed a button and it came
out of a box,” says Darrell Casey. “I think that has
something to do with it.”
In conversation, Darrell Casey comes off as a remarkably humble
man, as if he’s not even cognizant of the fact that he and
his sons have put together some of the best folk melodies and most
intricate arrangements this side of Nickel Creek.
Take for example, the song “Self Made Man,” in which
David jumps over to the piano to tickle out a romping boogie reminiscent
of Little Feat. The group drops a fast, repeated instrumental flourish
in unison at the end of each chorus; and then ends the song by trading
off those same flourishes as solos, call-and-response style, creating
a brief and tricky coda that few seasoned bands could pull off.
The effect is at once dazzling and perfectly suited for the playful
tone of the song. “It’s only a song, you know; so sometimes
you have to work it a bit - squeeze something out of it,” says
Joe Nickell, February 19, 2004
If you've never heard the Watercarvers Guild, you have missed one
of the best musical experiences Montana has to offer. From the moment
the father and sons trio starts playing, their music sweeps over
the audience like a clear mountain stream, washing away cares of
the moment in a celebration of pure joy.
If this sounds like an overstatement, you've never heard the Watercarvers
Darrell Casey, the father of the trio, has been playing his special
brand of acoustic guitar with a delicate, finger-picking style that
is reminiscent of guitar legend Andre Segovia. Although Darrell plays
folk music, not classical, the rapidly cascading notes that sing
through the strings as his fingers dance across them remind listeners
that they are in the presence of a great musician.
The audience gave Darrell a standing ovation in the middle of the
concert for an original guitar piece he wrote honoring Chief Joseph.
That's not to say that the Casey’s put on airs. Their show
is as down-to-earth as it is possible for professional musicians
to be. Their on-stage ribbing of each other is genuine, not staged,
and the relationship between a father, his sons and their music is
obviously a special one.
David Casey, the eldest son, plays piano, guitar and recorder during
the concert while his brother Nathan plays bass guitar. Along with
his father, David writes much of the music they perform. The songs
are filled with visual and sound imagery about the people, places
and spaces of Montana.
Watercarvers Guild plans to return next year. When they do, I'll
be there, along with my family. You'll be able to recognize me. I'll
be the one who can't wipe the grin from my face.
Kate Bertin, November 22, 2004
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