12 Questions from What's Up Magazine: Scot Casey
Tell us a lot about yourself? What’s your background?
Don’t figure there is a whole lot to tell. Born in Austin, Texas. 1962. Raised around a blink and you miss it place called Little Hope, intersection of Farm Roads 154 and 312. Spent a fair number of years learning to fish on Caddo Lake and Boney Sands before I headed back to Austin to spend about 10 years studying osteological legerdemain and epistemological cetology at the University. Worked for many years in bookstores, Europa, Desert Books, Apollinaire’s, before finally trying to own one called FringeWare – which ended up being a beautiful work of performance art, a Temporary Autonomous Zone that lasted for 3 years before flaming out. I then headed out to the Chama River Canyon in New Mexico and spent six months or so at a Monastery arguing with God and contemplating the mystery of the Bone. Deciding I wasn’t yet suited to be a monk I wandered back to Austin and got a job at the legendary Hole in the Wall, becoming involved in the local music scene. Then, burned out from all the cocaine and tequila, I moved a block up the street to work as a bartender at the Texas Showdown. When the Showdown closed, I found myself at loose ends and, after a time living in bad houses on the wrong side of town, decided it might be time to make a move before I ended up either in jail or dead.
What three words do you think best describes your personality? Why?
I am often accused of being humorous, funny in my tastes like cannibals eating a clown, so I imagine that might be apt. Then there are those that just seem to find me a bit peculiar, something like a skull in the rose garden. Mostly I think I am a fairly affable individual who doesn’t have to work too hard to feel friendly towards most of the other beings in the world. So there: humorous, peculiar and friendly.
What is the biggest difference between playing music now and playing music 25
Here’s how I see it: when I was younger and playing open mikes in Austin and small clubs in Dallas, I would see these guys about my age wearing broken fedoras and tattered jackets, shoes that had no shine, and they would stand on stage and try to act like old blues men or ex-junky jazz musicians. Weary with the world and their voices false with pretended roughness. And they would try so hard to not be trying so hard. But it was inauthentic. Too clean. As obvious as a sheep in wolves clothing. I never wanted that. Never wanted to fake having lived any sort of hard life with music. 25 years later, after having lived up and lived down, I understand that playing music is one of the crucial things that make my life worth living. 25 years ago, music was a hobby, something I did to pass the time. These days, music is like breathing or the pulse of blood over my bones. I am with the German that said, without music, life would be a mistake.
What is the oddest job you’ve ever held? How long did you hold it and why?
I have had a lot of odd jobs. Pulled weeds in the desert for monks. Managed a book festival for Laura Bush. Taught high school students about suicide. But the one that seems to surprise most people is that I was a high school football coach for seven years. I played the game all my life. Used to love it. Now I couldn’t tell you who won the Super Bowl.
What initially brought you to Bellingham? Why have you stayed?
I was burned out and a few feet off of rock bottom in Austin when my sister, who had moved up here years before, offered me a room in her basement to stay in for free. I came up here to finish the biography of Charles “Bonesy” Jones – which I wanted to write in scrimshaw on a whale’s skull. After several months of inquiries, I realized it would take more time than I thought to find the right skull, so I started looking for a job. To my great fortune, I was hired at the Black Drop Coffeehouse. Within a year, there was an opportunity to become an owner – which I jumped at. Everything has been golden since. Never found a place with nicer people who, mostly, seem to tolerate my periodic performances and enjoy the coffee I make for them.
Would you rather have the ability to speak to animals or to trees?
Animals all the way. Trees would be too strange. Being able to talk to a dog would be endless laughter. And being able to talk to a whale or an elephant seems like it would be a very holy thing – also with a lot of laughter.
When was the last time you drew a picture? What was it of?
A few weeks ago, I drew a portrait of a model posing at Modsock during Art Walk. I drew her “inner self,” which was, of course, a skeleton with a radiant skull mediating upon the broken bone of being. I think it is still up on the wall over there.
What part of the United States would you most like to visit and why?
Chama River Valley. New Mexico. Home of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Crucible of the Penitientes. Burial place of Charles “Bonesy” Jones. I consider it my spiritual home in the sense that everything I know about God and the Devil was uncovered there.
What musician, living, would you most like to share a sandwich with?
If I could share a corned beef sandwich on rye with Leonard Cohen, I’d feel pretty good about that.
You recently turned 50, what was the first thought that popped into your head when
you woke up? What was the last one?
More like an explosion of first thoughts: that I was a lucky man, that everything was so beautiful, that I was the happiest man alive, that I just wanted to laugh until my skull caught fire.
Last thought: pray that my bones might still be able to dance tomorrow.
If given the opportunity, would you be mayor of Bellingham? If so, what laws would
you immediately pass?
Mayor? Sure. Be happy to. Three laws:
1. No development around lakes, watersheds or areas of natural beauty.
2. No businesses of any kind that produce, import or export anything that is toxic to the environment.
3. No bad coffee.
What’s next for Scot Casey?
At the end of June, I have a show at the Honey Moon that pairs music with an 8 course dinner plus mead drinks. I expect there will be several dishes that feature bones: BBQ ribs, turkey legs and such. I am also working with Honeybee Press to get a small letterpress chapbook out something later in the summer. Also, what I initially came up here for: to finish the biography about the beautiful life and violent death of Charles “Bonesy” Jones – and to continue to work with the Jones estate to publish his artwork. And always, always, to help to keep the Black Drop shining bright and beautiful.