Nancy Atlas and Gene Casey will headline the inaugural Dan’s Papers “The BEST Concert” on November 15 at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Here we continue our interview from last week with these longtime Dan’s Papers Best of the Best winners. Both look forward to rocking the house in this Best of the Best concert ! READ PART I OF THIS INTERVIEW
Gene, listening to your new CD we all know you “Think About Elvis Every Day.” Who else has influenced your song writing?
I’m a student of the great songwriters, from Stephen Foster and the Tin Pan Alley era, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, but am particularly influenced by the classic country & western songwriters like Hank Williams, Harlan Howard, Roger Miller and early Willie Nelson. Those songs are models of simplicity and speak for so many of us, and can be performed by anybody: R&B-style, rock, as well as country.
Nancy, we know Lucinda Williams is someone you admire and that you are a Tom Petty fan. What other musicians have influenced you? What is it about Williams or Petty that gets you going?
Their haircuts. That’s what really gets me going. Their hair. No really…it’s their music. The feeling you get when you slip in their CD and get transported for an hour. Sonic bliss.
Influences? Johnny Cash because he played for himself and had a real relationship with the audience. It doesn’t matter how famous he was or his songwriting. The man connected on a very real and pure level. Bruce Springsteen is the same. He just continues to write these amazing songs and put on these epic live shows, and when he’s playing to an arena he has this gift of making you feel like he’s singing to you. You can say whatever you want about fame and success, but these people are just that: people. And they still write and create with a mountain of pressure on them. I have a lot of respect for their ability to do that and it’s truly inspiring. At the end of the day rewards mean jack s***. It’s really about getting behind the guitar, plugging in and letting it go whether it be writing or performing. I’m a lifer. I have to do it. No option. It’s my genetic coding.
What would you like to see happen next in your career as a performer or as a songwriter?
Nancy: As for the music, I’m in the process of pitching music to some TV shows/movies/country artists, and it would be wonderful to see a song get picked up and take on a whole different light. It’s an amazing feeling to see your music playing to someone else’s vision. Performance wise, 2014 is about a few road trips. I need to get out of town a bit with baby in tow. It’s important to work on your chops, and it’s very inspiring to win over a new crowd where nobody knows you in the room when you start and then they are buying CD’s by the time you finish. The thing with me is that I don’t take myself too seriously but I do take what I do VERY seriously. Great shows don’t happen by chance. All of the work before a show lets you sit back in the driver’s seat when you’re up there and just do what you do or take it where it needs to go that night.
Gene: I realized early on that we had to enjoy whatever level we were on and learn from every experience, every gig, because show biz—and life—is unpredictable and not always fair. I consider myself extremely fortunate to play music for a living, with a group of musicians with a pretty high standard—and to have my songs wind up in a movie or TV show, now and then, or just having the satisfaction of making a crowd of people dance their cares away. I treat every show equally. Of course, I look ahead and envision performing well into my 80s, like Sinatra or Tony Bennett, with all the young pop stars lining up for my “Duets” album!
Atlas and Casey perform at Dan’s Papers’ “Best” Concert and Dance Party, Nov. 15 at 8:30 p.m. at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. General admission $25. For more info and tickets, visit danspapers.com/best-of-best-2013/tickets. Voting for the Best of the Best in every category at danspapers.com/best-of-best-2013 runs through October 24.