The Lone Wolf

Joe Casey is not a “chick with a pick” himself, but he performs with four rockin’ women nine times a week in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. We sat down with him to chat about the development process of Guitar Girls, why he loves Johnny Cash, and his favorite Sarasota haunts.

Guitar Girls runs in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret now through April 7. For tickets and more information, click here.

You are a lone man in a cast full of Guitar Girls. What’s it been like to work with these four women on a show celebrating female singer-songwriters?

With all of these actor/musician cabarets, collaboration is always the fun part. We basically have 3 weeks to become a band. So it’s been great fun seeing what these women bring to every song, adding what I do to it, and listening to each other. Now we’re all in the pocket and rocking it out.

You’ve been in a few record-breaking cabarets here at FST, like Blue Suede Shoes and American Pie. In your opinion, is there a secret ingredient to the success of these shows, and if so what is it?

Um, me? No, seriously, I always like that Richard Hopkins calls today’s songwriters the lyric poets of our time. If you have a good interesting theme and wrap great songs around that, what’s not to love and enjoy? That’s why they’ve been breaking records.

Oh, and the fact that I’ve been in them.

You played Johnny Cash in FST’s production of Million Dollar Quartet, and you sing “Jackson” with Tamra in Guitar Girls. What’s it like to step into Cash’s shoes again, this time on the Cabaret stage? Does Joe Casey have in common with Johnny Cash? Why do you think this music has such staying power?

I always love to sing Johnny Cash. I feel a lot of commonality with him – love of family, love of music and rhythm. And his daughter Rosanne says he always said, “You can choose love or fear. I choose love.” It’s a great way to live.

How long have you played bass/guitar? What made you want to learn how to play?

I grew up in a family of musicians, so I learned to play everything at an early age. When I was younger, I was most skilled on piano, but when I moved to New York City in my 20s, it was easier to pack a guitar than a piano, so I grew more accomplished on guitar. Doing four FST Cabarets has made me really hone some bass playing skills, and I’m still learning. I’m challenging myself to play more leads on guitar – I do a few in this show.

Rumor has it you can sometimes been spotted performing at open mic nights around Sarasota. What type of music do you enjoy performing outside of the Goldstein Cabaret?

When I do open mics, I’m usually playing my own songs, songs I’ve written over the years. I guess you could call it acoustic punk. It’s very standard guitar singer-songwriter stuff, but I grew up in the 80s, so that punk sound inadvertently always shows up a little in what I write.

Guitar Girls runs in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret now through April 7. For tickets and more information, click here.