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Watercarvers Guild
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Concert Reviews

The Missoulian

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 Darrell demurely.

Joe Nickell, February 19, 2004

Independent Press

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 play.

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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