Posts Tagged ‘Casey Abrams’

Casey Abrams’ Album Release Set for June 26

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Casey Abrams latest album will be released Tuesday. Banner art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“American Idol” heartthrob Casey Abrams’ first self-titled album is set for release on Tuesday, June 26. Already several web sites have showcased his entire album, including the Hollywood Reporter and Amazon.

Not to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn’t heard the album yet, I’ll speak in general terms. Casey is singing about his life in real time. About living the simple life, falling in and out of love, longing and not changing his personality in spite of fame.

One fan said on the MJS big blog site, that he’d surely buy Casey’s album for it’s great music, but the themes of rejection and longing for the unattainable reminded him too much of his own “loser teenage years.” Yet, “Hit the Road Jack,” a duet with Haley Reinhart, was well worth the album price (Amazon presale: $9.99).

Most of the upbeat, Bob Marley-type tunes, were likely written by Casey because they are clever. You’re tapping and singing along, dancing along even, and then he throws a few zingers that shows he has a soul or at least lived a few lifetimes already.

The three tunes that I can mention (because Casey has already released them as singles on You Tube) are “Get Out,” “Simple Life” and “Stuck in London.”

“Simple Life” (studio version) could be about living his high school years in Idyllwild. Casey sings about unplugging his laptop, cell phone and TV, and enjoying the simple life. He injects a bit of humor by stating that he should never had dumped that hand-me-down from dad (Ira Abrams from the Idyllwild Arts Film Department). What was Ira’s hand-me-down–clothes, a Cadillac or a musical instrument? Casey never says.

His “Get Out” lyrics are heartbreaking, even though they are sung in an upbeat way: “Lately, I’ve been going crazy/ cuz I want you, baby/but you don’t/ so get out, get out, get out, get out of my heart!/

So sometime over the past year or so Casey fell in love. Ten to one it’s not Haley, because she’s just as busy as he is promoting singles and scheduling public appearances. Could it be Bianca King, the young actress from The Philippines who was hell bent on meeting Casey during the “American Idol Live” tour? She turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass (see Idyllwild Me post, “Casey’s Expanding Fan Base,” dated Jan. 15, 2012).

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch with Casey banner outside Cafe Aroma. Art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

Why I guessed Bianca is because Casey sings a lot about eating mangoes in a mango tree in “Stuck in London.” Well, mangoes grow naturally in The Philippines, and he was visiting there for a couple of days. But is that long enough to fall in love?

Ira Abrams is careful not to give too much away about his son’s personal life. But he admitted that many young Filipinos are crazy about Casey.

“Did you know they hang banners from buildings with quotes from Casey?” Ira said outside Fairway a few weeks ago. “Some quotes are mundane like ‘I sometimes watch TV.'”

Whether Casey is singing about Bianca is nobody’s business. But it sure makes the song more interesting if we know the juicy details. Remember when “You’re So Vain” was released by Carly Simon in 1972? Well, her self-absorbed lover wasn’t husband James Taylor, but Warren Beatty, the actor from “Shampoo” and “Reds.” (Wikipedia stated there was “much speculation” about three men, including Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte and Warren Beatty).

However, all that speculation may have helped “You’re So Vain” reach no. 72 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time” chart. So, to help boost Casey’s record sales, someone needs to find out if Bianca has eaten mangoes in trees before.

Casey with Caleb Hensinger at an Idyllwild Arts film event.

Probably the only song that Casey didn’t write in this latest album is the tune popularized by Ray Charles. “Hit the Road Jack” is a spanky little duet with Haley Reinhart. You’ve got to admit it, those two have chemistry. He’s classy, and she’s brassy. He growls, and her voice has range.

But he’s a great jazz musician and could actually make it in the movies, if he wanted to. And singing duets with Haley has boosted her popularity since he took her under his wing in “American Idol’s” Season 10.

This is not the first duet for Casey and Haley. So far, they’ve sung “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Moanin,” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

It’s not Casey’s first album either. Casey released “Like a Mirror,” in 2005 and “Oh, You Kid!” in 2010. He probably funded the first two, while Concord is taking credit for this one.

You can purchase all three of Casey’s albums on Amazon. Or you can sample “Oh, You Kid!” on Casey’s web site, www.caseyabrams.com.

“Give him a Grammy already,” said another Casey fan after reviewing his album. “I love every song on this album!”

To preview some of Casey’s hit singles, visit You Tube at www.youtube.com or go directly to Amazon, and buy the album for $9.99.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Banners of Casey Abrams by Marcia E. Gawecki are now on display at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.

 

Students to Perform at Berklee Jazz Fest

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

(from L) Lake with Ashi and Alejandro at another event

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Saturday, March 10, four jazz students from Idyllwild Arts Academy will be attending the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston. Last year, two brought back Outstanding Musician and Superior Musician Awards.

The four jazz musicians who are going this year are: Lake (guitar), Luca (piano), Mary (bass) and Max (drums). Lake and Mary are seniors, Luca is a junior and Max is a sophomore.

“I know that a piano, bass, guitar and drums sounds like an unusual jazz combo,” Max explained. “Even though we don’t have a horn player, we sound pretty good.”

Lake, the only one who will be attending the Berklee Jazz Festival both years, doesn’t feel the pressure to win more awards. He’s racked up a few of his own this year, including a Young Artist Award, a Downbeat Magazine Award (June issue), and an Honorable Mention at the Music Center’s Spotlight Competition.

Jazz drummer Max is looking forward to his first competition

Although a little arrogance would be expected, Lake remains humble.

“There are so many deserving musicians out there,” he said.

Not to be outdone, Luca, the jazz pianist, just won a songwriting award. But they won’t be playing his original music at Berklee. The jazz combo will be playing three songs, including “Moment’s Notice” by John Coltrane, “Monk’s Mood” by Theolonious Monk and “Straight Up and Down” by Chick Corea.

Max, from Russia, is looking forward to the Berklee Jazz Festival, but is a little nervous about playing before large crowds at the Hynes Convention Center. It’s his first competition, and he’s relatively new to jazz. Before coming to Idyllwild Arts this year, Max hadn’t played jazz before.

He said he looked up Idyllwild Arts online, and received a great scholarship. He likes living up in the San Jacinto Mountains, but it’s not as rustic as Russia.

“In Russia, there are more bears there than there are squirrels here,” he said.

Portrait of Marshall Hawkins by Idyllwild artist Marcia E. Gawecki

He knows about bears firsthand. When he went canoe camping with this father, he heard “crunching” sounds outside their tent late at night.

“I just knew that it was a bear,” Max said.

In the morning, there were fresh bear paw prints all around their tent and campsite.

He said he’ll never forget that sound. Perhaps it might work its way into one of his drum solos in the future? Max only laughs.

In Boston, the group, including jazz instructors Marshall Hawkins and Paul Carman, will meet up with former jazz students, Caleb (trumpet), Jacob (saxophone) and Ashi (drums), who now attend the Berkelee College of Music in Boston. In 2011, Jacob brought back an Outstanding Musician Award and Lake received a Superior Musician Award.

They got a jump start at Idyllwild Arts, and played regular gigs at Café Aroma in Idyllwild. When their schedules would allow, Caleb, Jacob and Lake would perform with Marshall and Paul on Tuesday nights. On a few occasions, they played with bassist and jazz grad Casey Abrams before he entered the 10th Season of American Idol, and catapulted into the world’s stage.

Casey Abrams banner at Cafe Aroma. The 7 x 9 foot banner is for sale for $900

This weekend, Casey will be performing at the Idyllwild Arts Spring Gala in Los Angeles.

Whether these four will bring back more awards from the Berklee Jazz Fest is anyone’s guess. We’ll find out soon enough at the next jazz concert.

When they performed together at the last jazz concert, Stephens Recital Hall was packed. Their concerts have become so popular that they’ve had to move to the IAF Theatre in Bowman for the next one.

For more information on the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171. And more about the Berklee High School Jazz Festival, visit. www.berklee.org.

The original Casey Abrams acrylic banner, 7 x 9 feet, is for sale for $900. However, the Marshall Hawkins banner is sold. Email: idyllwildwriter@gmail.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Casey Abram’s Expanding Fan Base

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Casey banner by Idyllwild artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“Is your most famous celebrity still living in Idyllwild?”

It was Saturday night, Jan. 14, and we were chatting at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District of Palm Springs.

Sorry, Casey, but I instantly thought of “The Bronze Buckaroo,” Herb Jeffries, and not you. Although she was pretty, this woman was middle-aged.

“We just loved watching Casey each week on ‘American Idol’ (Season 10),” exclaimed Brenda Friend, of Palm Springs. “My friends and I even went to Los Angeles where they taped the show to meet him and get an autograph, but it never happened.”

She was almost giddy.

“Then we were thinking of going up to Idyllwild to meet him, if he still lived there.”

Going from relative obscurity to instant celebrity must be a surreal thing for Casey. To find middle-aged fans like Brenda who are willing to travel great distances to meet him. But the young ones are rabid too!

Remember when the ‘American Idol Live’ Tour ended Sept. 20-21 in The Philippines? Bianca King, a young actress, was hell-bent on meeting Casey, so she turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass.

They hit it off and had a good laugh when Bianca told him that if he dyed his hair black and got a spray tan, he’d make it as an actor in The Philippines. She then posted pictures of the two of them on her blog site.

Casey playing with other Idyllwild Arts students at the LA Club. Photo by Marcia Gawecki

Back at the Art Walk in Palm Springs, I told Brenda Friend that Casey’s parents still lived in Idyllwild, and Ira Abrams worked with me at Idyllwild Arts.

Then I found myself promising I would try to get Casey’s autograph.

I secretly hoped it was possible.

Brenda wrote down her Palm Springs address, and then rushed over to tell her husband and friends.

The funny thing was that Brenda hadn’t even heard about Casey’s latest You Tube video announcing his record deal with Concord Records. It’s the same label as Carole King and Kenny G.

Casey’s mom, Pam Pierce, sent an email saying there was an Idyllwild Arts connection to the video. The song was written, recorded and produced by Casey (all instruments and voices). The video was shot and edited at Idyllwild Arts by Nick Cain and Sean Stromsoe of Persistent Vision (former Idyllwild Arts film students).

“Oh, he’s so natural and fun-loving in front of the camera,” Brenda exclaimed. “His parents raised him right.”

To view Casey’s announcement video, click here: Casey_Abrams_Signed-1

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me (text and images, but not video). All rights reserved.

Idyllwild Townies Support Student Jazz Efforts

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday night, Dec. 13, student jazz concert was the place to be in Idyllwild. Everyone was there. And not just parents, faculty and students. Hubert Halkin and Frank Ferro from Cafe Aroma were there, and musician Barnaby Finch, along with countless others who packed Stephens Recital Hall at Idyllwild Arts Academy to over capacity. It was standing room only three deep to the door. No one seemed to mind and no one left at intermission.

One look at Marshall Hawkins’ face, and you’d know he was pleased with the turnout. (After all, that guy never smiles).

“My friend is in the chorus and he’s also Korean,” said Kevin, a Visual Arts student.

“I came to support Marshall,” said Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts music director.

“I think Casey Abrams brought a lot of popularity to jazz, even on campus,” said Mary, who was taking pictures for the academy.

“I came to see what great jazz musicians this school is cranking out,” said Hubert. “We want to talk them into playing at Cafe Aroma soon. We’ve already got Lake.”

Regardless of their reasons for coming, there was a festive mood about the place.

When I arrived (30 minutes late), the new Idyllwild Jazz Choir was performing, “Centerpiece.” Anne Farnsworth, their vocal instructor, introduced the piece from the piano bench. The group of nine was dressed up and crowded around a half circle onstage.

“There isn’t much stage room because of all the instruments on stage,” Mary explained, as she maneuvered to get better photos of them.

The overhead spotlights weren’t great for taking pictures either. The lights were least effective in the back of the multi-purpose room.

Towards the end of “Centerpiece,” each of the students took turns and “scatted” one line each. All of them were good, and left you wanting them to scat a little more. And maybe move around a bit too. But I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t Billie Holiday, but teenagers at their first concert.

The Jazz Choir continued with “You Send Me,” “Shenandoah,” and the shorter “Tenor Madness,” arranged by Anne.

Throughout each song, one well-dressed middle aged guy closed his eyes and shook his head to the beat. He was happy in his own little jazz world. Barnaby was listening intently to each word. Some students in the audience were hugging each other and singing along.

After a brief intermission (in which no one left or gave up their seats!), Paul Carman’s Combo took the stage. According to the program, the night was split up into three parts, including Marshall Hawkins’ Combo (which I missed!), the Jazz Choir, and now Paul Carman’s Combo. Paul works closely with Marshall, and, according to the jazz students, each has his own teaching style.

Paul’s Combo was comprised of Lake (guitar), Luca (piano/keyboards), Mary (bass) and Max (drums). Paul introduced the group, and then quickly bowed out.

“This is Lake’s group,” Paul said.

Lake looked every bit the boss. He was dressed in a white blazer, dark shirt and a new haircut. His expression was serious, but the group could “read” his cues from behind him.

They played “Windows,” a modern Chick Corea tune, to start. It was a decent effort, and the crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative. But the four entertainers never smiled. This was serious jazz.

Katie, dressed in a black halter dress, looked every bit the part of an up-and-coming jazz singer. She introduced the Duke Ellington tune, “Solitude,” from behind her long bangs. After the first line, she had everyone in the room captivated.

For Christmas, I wished for a spotlight for her.

Next, Lake lead the group with the favorite Thelonious Monk tune, “Criss Cross.” He seemed to ease up a bit and moved his lips to playing the tune. Luca was moving his lips too. Guess that’s what jazz musicians do.

“Marshall does that too,” exclaimed another student. “It’s funny, but you don’t notice it after awhile.”

When the Korean singer (don’t know his name!) introduced the next song, “The Way You Look Tonight,” it drew a loud “Awwww!” from the women in the audience.

His Beatle haircut and close microphone made it hard for Mary to take his picture. But the crowd was pleased with his version of the famous Jerome Kern tune. He wasn’t afraid to use the microphone.

Some of the other jazz musicians appeared shy and a little unsure about being onstage, however. After the next two tunes, “Monk’s Mood,” and “Moment’s Notice,” Marshall orchestrated the Daniel Jackson song, “Wisdom,” bringing all 14 jazz students onstage.

Three of them recited some words about what wisdom meant, including Walker, who was from Marshall’s Combo. Most of the words of wisdom sounded pretty deep, like poetry.

“Marshall’s going to lead everyone in the group by just pointing to them,” Paul announced to the audience.

Katie, Emily, Paul and the Korean guy were scat singing, which wasn’t an easy feat over all those instruments, including a keyboard, piano, violin, French horn, saxophone, guitar, electric guitars, bass and drums. “Wisdom” wasn’t chaos, but a nicely-orchestrated song. Marshall brought everyone into the tune at the right time.

A few players, such as Lake, Randy, Inigo and Max, got to perform standout solos during “Wisdom.” Afterwards, everyone in the audience showed their appreciation. Everyone around me was certain that Max would get a girlfriend after his standout drum solo. He was just oozing jazz confidence.

“That was a lot of fun,” remarked everyone as they left Stephens Recital Hall Tuesday night. It was dark, damp and cold in Idyllwild, but no one seemed to notice. They had been warmed on the inside from a night of good jazz.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 14, 2011 @ 17:41

 

 

Scat! to the Student Jazz Concert Tuesday

Monday, December 12th, 2011

(from L) Lake, Ashi and Alejandro, from another event. Lake is among the jazz musicians who will play on Tuesday night.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Scat!

That might be something you’d shout at an annoying cat. But we’re talking about cool cats here. Like Louis Armstrong, Marshall Hawkins and Casey Abrams, to name a few.

Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was credited with the invention of “scat.” That’s when a singer uses nonsensical syllables to sing improvised lines of a jazz tune.

Idyllwild Arts grad Casey Abrams brought scat to America’s living rooms during Season 10 of “American Idol” last year. Most were amused when Casey would play his bass and scat, as if he was speaking a new language.

But Casey learned how to scat from the scat master, Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

Scat is not just something to say to an annoying cat.

“Marshall is the best scatter around,” all the jazz students would say.

Marshall didn’t stop with Casey. He’s also teaching the singers of the new Jazz Chorus how to scat too.

This Tuesday night, Dec. 13, you will hear them scat and play their hearts out. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Elijah, a pianist from Hamburg, Germany, is among the nine members of the new Jazz Chorus. But he admits that he can’t scat.

“I’m not really a good scatter, but I can sing good enough to blend into the background,” Elijah said last weekend. “Some of the others are really good at scatting. You should hear them!”

Elijah mentioned the names of the five or six songs the new Jazz Chorus will be singing on Tuesday night, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

He said the songs have jazz and blues roots with a “Manhattan Transfer” sound. As a teenager, Elijah is too young to remember the 70s band, Manhattan Transfer, which was known for their four-part harmonies and hit single, “Operator.” But he must’ve heard their memorable harmonies to borrow from them.

Elijah said that Tuesday’s jazz concert is not just about the Jazz Chorus, but also include features the two jazz combos, and the entire Idyllwild Arts Jazz Orchestra.

Casey Abrams (center) helped bring scat into American living rooms during the last season of "American Idol."

“We’ve been practicing since Parents Weekend, at the beginning of the school year,” Elijah said. “We’re ready!”

The Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild. The concert is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat!

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:48

 

 

 

Goodbye to Cafe Cinema Regulars

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This Friday night, Sept. 30, Cafe Cinema in Idyllwild is saying goodbye to two beloved movie regulars, Will Waddell and his wife, Lori Alexander. Since they will be moving to Santa Monica soon, Jeffrey Taylor asked them to pick the movie.

As you may know, Lori is an accomplished composer and musician, and Will is a beloved biology teacher at Idyllwild Arts. They chose two cinedues, “Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” from Israel, and “Sex Among Other Things,” a short created by Idyllwild Arts students featuring Will as a sex ed teacher and Casey Abrams, our “American Idol” heartthrob,  as one of the students.

“Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” is a coming-of-age comedy that centers on a 16-year-old-boy, Shlomi. He takes care of his relatives, including his brother, mother and grandfather. He is a tremendous cook who can handle a lot of household chores.

However, things change for Shlomi when his school principal discovers that he is a genius. To get the proper education he needs, Shlomi must change schools. Yet, this genius is reluctant because of his mad crush on the girl next door.

Will can empathazine with Shlomi because he was in a similar situation in his youth.

“I had a mad crush on a girl in middle school,” Will recalled. “And before I could make a move, I got the news that my family was moving. I didn’t want to go.”

Oftentimes, teachers and students at Idyllwild Arts Academy are asked to try out for short movie roles. As a biology teacher, Will was a natural actor who delivered  his lines with deadpan accuracy.

“It was really fun being in a comedy,” Will had said. “As long as it didn’t take away from my class time, I was game.”

(from L) Casey Abrams with Caleb H. from Idyllwild Arts, also appears in Friday's movie, "Sex Among Other Things"

Any seasoned actor could tell you that comedy is difficult. If the timing or actor’s expressions are off, then everything falls flat. Yet, Will was a natural humorist, the students who worked on the movie had said.

 

In “Sex Among Other Things,” Will used a life-sized skeleton to discuss the clinical aspects of human copulation to students in the class.

“The director allowed me to ad lib my lines a lot,” Will said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have to do another take.”

Casey Abrams fans can catch his early comedy talent in “Sex Among Other Things.” Casey is a natural cut-up, but he also can show a serious side. In “18 Minutes,” Casey played a young boy dealing with a father who was slipping into insanity (played by local Chris Pennock).

“I knew Casey had talent way back then,” said Jeffrey Taylor, before Casey made it big on Season 10 of “American Idol.”

Jeffrey had shown “Sex Among Other Things” years ago at Cafe Cinema when it came out for the first time.

Come see the full-lenght comedy,”Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” and the short, “Sex Among Other Things” this Friday night at the new Cafe Cinema located at 53290 Deerfoot Lane in Idyllwild. For more information, visit www.greencafe.com

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

‘Welcome Home Casey’ Block Party

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Cafe Aroma will be hosting a "Welcome Home, Casey" block party this Sunday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

What’s next for Casey Abrams, the “American Idol” heartthrob from Idyllwild? Will he be making a jazz record? Performing again with Jack Black? Going on tour with his jazz band? Hosting “Saturday Night Live?”

Never mind all that! First, we’re gonna party! Café Aroma is hosting a “Welcome Home, Casey” block party in Idyllwild this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. t o 7 p.m. in front of the restaurant. They’re serving up Casey-named pasta and drink specials. The stage is set for a Casey jazz jam session and there will be booths promoting his charities.

Casey will be there, of course. Probably all jet lagged from his last “American Idol Live” gig in The Philippines. His ears will still be ringing from performing practically every night for the entire summer. He might be a little giddy about coming home.

Yep, our own “Nature Boy” is finally coming home.

Like most folks in this tiny town, I watched him move through the ranks on Season 10 of “American Idol” every Wednesday and Thursday nights. we’d gather before the TV, with chips, pizza and wine glasses in hand, and talk about his chances, how he did last week, and what we think he should do to win.

But you could hear a pin drop when he’d be performing. Sometimes we’d forgot to breathe. Then we’d all talk at once:

“Didn’t he sound great?”

“I think they trimmed his beard.”

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch in front of a Casey banner by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“He’s so much better than the other contestants. He’s a true musician with talent.”

“No one in America knew he could play the bass, but we all knew years ago.”

“What will they make him sing next week?

Then we’d vote 50 or 100 times until our fingers would turn blue, and go home happy. Our local boy was making us proud. We weren’t expecting him to just make the “Top 10,” we wanted him to win the darn thing. Making it to No. 6 was quite the feat, though. It was probably a lot harder than we’ll ever know.

One time while still performing on “American Idol,” Casey paid a visit to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he graduated from the jazz department a couple of years ago.

“Casey told us that he could have gone farther in the ‘American Idol’ competition if he would have performed more pop songs,” said several students from Idyllwild Arts after his visit. “But he wanted to stay true to his jazz roots.”

“I heard him sing ‘Nature Boy’ during his senior jazz recital,” said Cheyenne, a dance major at Idyllwild Arts. “The place was packed. He was really a popular guy. It was standing room only.”

Casey had performed “Nature Boy” in Idyllwild first, where Nature reigns supreme. Yep, Casey was singing for America about Idyllwild!

“I came to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program because I heard it was good,” said one 14-year-old voice major with braces from San Francisco. “But I was also hoping that I could meet Casey.”

Casey Abrams jamming with Caleb at an Idylwild Arts event

Casey left a talented Idyllwild Arts graduate, and is returning on Sunday a famous person. Try Googling his name these days and a million articles turn up! On “American Idol,” he sang a duet with Jack Black and kissed JayLo! He’s met all kinds of famous producers, directors, musicians and artists along the way.

“I saw Casey at Forever 21 (clothing store) in New York this summer,” said Tierra, a musical theater major. “He was buying the zipped-up natural clothes that he always wears.”

But Tierra didn’t say hi because Casey was with a friend and seemed preoccupied. He probably would have welcomed seeing a familiar face though.

“Casey emailed me and asked me to come to his show in New York,” Cheyenne added. “He said that he could even get me free tickets, but I couldn’t go.”

On Sunday, Marshall Hawkins, his Idyllwild Arts jazz teacher and mentor, will get Casey onstage to perform with Seahawk Mojo, his band that’s bringing jazz to area grade schools.

“That’s his bass, I can tell by the markings,” Marshall said while looking at a picture of Casey performing “Nature Boy” on “American Idol.” Of course, Marshall won’t be treating Casey any different now that he’s famous.

“Before I met you, I didn’t even know how to talk to another musician,” Casey wrote in a text message to Marshall during the Town Jazz event in Idyllwild this summer. Now we heard that Casey would often help out the musicians in the “American Idol” band.

On Sunday afternoon, Casey will pose for pictures, answer 1 million questions about his “American Idol” experience, and talk about his future plans. But probably the only thing he’ll want to do is play on the familiar Café Aroma stage with his bass. Just a (now world famous) hometown boy playing the jazz that he loves.

Glad you’re home, Casey. All I’m hoping for is a snapshot of you standing next to my huge, hand-painted Casey banner that’s hanging on Café Aroma’s deck! (Your mom promised to buy it!)  Look for more Casey-inspired art inside Cafe Aroma by local artists.

The “Welcome Home Casey” block party will be held this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. outside Café Aroma, located at 54750 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.cafearoma.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:03

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshall Hawkins Known as Casey’s Mentor

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Marshall Hawkins mentor relationship with Casey Abrams will appear in a future issue of Down Beat magazine.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The text message from Casey Abrams came while Marshall Hawkins was performing the bass onstage Sunday night during his Town Jazz event in Idyllwild. Casey, the local “American Idol” heart throb, was thousands of miles away performing with “American Idol Live.”

“I got the picture,” Marshall said later. “It was taken a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

Marshall, who helped start the successful Jazz in the Pines event 18 years ago, brought two nights of jazz music to Idyllwild locals and jazz lovers during his first-ever Town Jazz event Aug. 27-28.

Marshall heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy and has played with the likes of Miles Davis. With more than 200 in attendance each night, Marshall plans to host the event next year.

Proceeds went to his charity, Seahawk MOJO, which brings jazz to the grade schools in Idyllwild, Hemet and San Diego.

Marshall didn’t say what Casey’s text message was about, but his mother, Pam Pierce, who lives in Idyllwild, didn’t mind sharing it:

“First of all, I miss you and your crazy classes. And second, you are the reason I got into music on a new and much different level. I would have no idea how to even TALK to another musician–you gave me the language, the knowledge of chord structure, all the possibilities of the bass line, and most importantly, the love I have for jazz.

I needed that cheerleader/friend in my life growing up. You are amazing. We’ll definitely work together in the future.”

Casey Abrams (with Caleb Hensinger, Idyllwild Arts) has credited Marshall for his love of jazz music. Photo credit: ME Gawecki.

Marshall said that Casey would have been performing with him onstage at Town Jazz had he not been committed to “American Idol Live.”

“Casey is part of Seahawk MOJO,” Marshall said. “He’s part of our jazz orchestra. When Casey’s done with his commitment to ‘American Idol,” we’re going to perform together for the kids in the grade schools.”

When Casey was competing on the 10th Season of “American Idol,” he credited Marshall as being his mentor.

“He mentioned it several times on national TV,” said Pam, who was taking tickets Sunday night for Town Jazz.

Sometime in the future, a national magazine will feature a story on Marshall and Casey’s close relationship.

“I’m not going to tell you what’s in the article,” Marshall chided after a Tuesday night jazz set at Cafe Aroma. “I don’t want to spoil it.”

Carl L. Hager, a freelance writer who has written about Casey before, said he plans to show his article to different magazine publishers with jazz listeners in their readership.

“It is possible Down Beat could eventually publish it, or it might end up with Esquire or GQ or Rolling Stone, that hasn’t yet been determined,” Carl wrote in a recent email.

Commemorative Town Jazz T-shirts are still available for $15 each along with full-color posters at The Spruce Moose. All proceeds go to Seahawk MOJO.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 5, 2011 @ 18:21

 

Idyllwild’s Town Jazz Concert Undampened

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

(from L) Volunteer Pam Piece and Jeffrey Taylor support Town Jazz. Pam said that Casey Abrams sent Marshall his regards

Despite the steady rain at showtime, the second evening of the outdoor Town Jazz concert went on without a hitch Sunday night, Aug. 28.

Concertgoers were treated to an evening of jazz under the stars, along with a guest singer, tap dancer and African percussionist.

“We had no battle with the weather,” said bassist Marshall Hawkins, who is spearheading the event. “Right at 5 o’clock, our drummers were playing, but our amps were turned off so we didn’t get shocked. But when the rain stopped, we just took off!”

Many concertgoers had come straight from the Jazz in the Pines concert at the other end of town. The rain wasn’t going to keep them from a steady diet of jazz. They were used to the sudden rainfall because it happened the day before.

Sunday evening’s Town Jazz concert didn’t disappoint the 150 or so who attended. On the bill were the same fine musicians who played the night before, including Daniel Jackson, Gilbert Castellanos, Bob Boss, Brett Sanders, Mikan Zlatkovich. Najite replaced Latin percussionist Roy Gonzales, yet special guests Yve Evans and Roland Esquire Jones remained.

Najite, an African percussionist, dressed in native attire, mellowed the crowd with his bongo rhythms. Singer Yve Evans, who is popular in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, brought the crowd to their knees with her rendition of “Stormy Weather.”

Scott, from Mountain Harvest Market, was among the few who grabbed one of her limited CDs. He had it in hand and was grinning from ear to ear. Yve’s voice had that affect on everyone.

Volunteer Tressa shows off how she jazzed up Marshall's T-shirt

“I have just a few that I brought with me,” Yve announced, and there was a rush from the audience.

Another unexpected highlight in the show was Claudia Gomez, a tap dancer, who did a nice number on a small piece of wood laid onstage.

Marshall said that he had just met Claudia a week earlier, and was glad that she wanted to perform with the band.

Jeffrey Taylor, from Green Cafe Internet, chatted with Claudia afterwards.

“I asked her if she knew about the Nicholas Brothers , and she said yes,” Jeffrey said. “I think she was surprised that I knew about them too.”

The Nicholas Brothers were a tap-dancing team popular in the 1930s. Among their fans was Gregory Hines. Jeffrey had shown a documentary on the Nicholas Brothers two days earlier.

Pam Pierce, a volunteer and the mother of “American Idol” heartthrob, Casey Abrams, said that Casey had sent Marshall a congratulatory text. Casey was currently on the Idol Summer Tour and couldn’t be there to perform. Marshall is Casey’s former teacher from Idyllwild Arts Academy, and the two remain close.

Town Jazz sponsors talk while shielding their eyes from the sun

“I got the photo,” Marshall said. “It was taken of the two of us a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

He said that Town Jazz will definitely return next year, and he’s making plans with more musicians and sponsors. However, the venue will remain the same.

“The owner of  Jo’An’s said that we could come back every month if we wanted,” Marshall said.

Given the fact that he heads up the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, and performs with his band and other gigs, it may be hard to pull off a monthly jazz show, he said.

“We want to keep the focus on Seahawk MoJo (his charity for jazz in the grade schools), and not just working as musicians,” he said.

Tap dancer Claudia Gomez performs along with the band

Jon Stonitsch, from The Spruce Moose, one of the sponsors, said that he especially liked the jazz on Sunday evening.

“On Saturday night, there were a lot more people eating and drinking at Jo’An’s,” he said. “But on Sunday night, you could tell there were a lot of jazz lovers in the crowd. They were there just for the music.”

Bryan Tallent, also from The Spruce Moose, said that the Idyllwild Business Round Table is already trying to nail down a date for the 2nd Annual Idyllwild Town Jazz concert.

“We have to get a commitment from those musicians before they go somewhere else,” Bryan said.

Most of the musicians were not tied to the Jazz in the Pines event held the same weekend, but came up because of Marshall’s invitation.

“I’m not certain, but I think only one of the guys played at the jazz fest,” Bryan said.

Ticket sales were steady both nights, along with commemorative posters and T-shirts designed by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki. The remaining 35 will be sold for $15 at The Spruce Moose located on the top level of The Fort.

Volunteer Peggy Gawecki shows off the limited edition Town Jazz T-shirt with Marshall's image.

“Those T-shirts will be worth double the price next year because it was the first Town Jazz event ever,” Marshall predicted.

Jeffrey Taylor was one of the first to buy the fuchsia T-shirt at Mountain Harvest Market, and wore it both days.

“The design is nice, but pick another color next year,” he said with a grin.

Many of the male jazz goers didn’t like the hot pink shirt, while others like Tressa, a volunteer, embellished it with tassels, giving it a Mardi Gras look.

“I learned how to do this design in San Tropez,” Tressa explained.

She took the oversized Marshall T-shirt and cut 1-inch tassels into the neck, sleeves and sculpted the bottom edge. Several women asked her how they could do it to theirs.

No final profit/loss count was available, but Doug Yagaloff, from Mountain Harvest Market, said he was pleased with the turnout and ticket sales. The posters and T-shirts added a lot to the event too, he said.

“We didn’t have much time to plan this year’s event, so it turned out pretty well,” he said.

A limited number of Marshall Hawkins fuchsia T-shirts ($15 each), and signed posters ($5 each) are still available at The Spruce Moose, located in the Fort at 54225 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. For more information, call (951) 659-5556.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 30, 2011 @ 14:11

Casey’s Beard Will Stick with Him

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Casey performing as part of an Idyllwild Arts jazz trio at the LA Club

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During this past week on Fox 11’s “American Idol,” I expected Casey Abrams, the heartthrob from Idyllwild, to shave his beard.  After all, he had to do something to top the Jennifer Lopez kiss.

Throughout Season 10, columnists, bloggers and reporters have been obsessed with Casey’s beard. Early on, he was compared to popular comedic actor Seth Rogen, but lately, some have been less than kind, calling him “a bearded doughboy.”

What is the big deal about a beard?  It looks nice on Casey. Does a beard always have to give the impression that a man is hiding something?

“He looks a little bit scruffy,” admitted  my mother when I asked her to watch the show.

My dad, a gynecologist, shaved his face every day of his professional life.

“Patients won’t come to me if I have a beard,” he said. “Medical professionals must be clean shaven.”

Probably the only one who could wear a beard without reprisal would be a psychiatrist. After all, Freud had one.

In an interview after he was cut from “American Idol” last week, Casey was asked about The Beard again. He admitted that “American Idol” judge Steven Tylor, the frontman from Aerosmith, caught his eye once and did a mock shaving motion.

“I really appreciated that gesture,” Casey said.

Casey said that he didn’t want to shave his beard because he has a receding chin.

Well, that makes sense. A beard would cover that up nicely.

During one of the show’s short videos (rather, the Ford commercial), each of the final six contestants got to poke fun at each other. When it came to Casey, everyone wore Abe Lincoln beards and talked about his zaniness. Jacob Lusk called him “odd,” but a “musical genius” at the same time. That night, even show host Ryan Seacrest, wore a mock beard.

Yep, Casey takes the beard chiding all in stride. Perhaps he takes cues from his father, Ira Abrams, a bearded film teacher at Idyllwild Arts Academy, where Casey learned his jazz moves.

Another interviewer asked Casey what his first album would look like.

“It’ll probably have an upright bass on it,” Casey said. “And a beard.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: May 4, 2011 @ 16:04