On Friday, November 15 the Suffolk Theater will be rockin’ and rollin’ with plenty of rhythm and twang as The Nancy Atlas Project and Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks headline Dan’s Papers first “The BEST Concert” in celebration of the Dan’s Papers Best of the Best (BOTB) annual contest. These repeat BOTB winners have been carving out their spots as two of the most popular East End performers for years, with Casey and his Lone Sharks celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. In anticipation of their appearance on the same bill we asked Atlas and Casey a few questions about their careers and the upcoming concert.
Along with being at the top of the votes each year for Dan’s Papers Best of the Best, you have some common history. What’s one of your first or best memories of the other?
Casey: I first heard about this chick performing at open mic nights around town, playing a red-white-and-blue guitar a la Buck Owens on Hee Haw, which impressed me to no end! There was a cassette demo making the rounds of her own tunes, and I was immediately struck by her great singing voice, as well as her sense of humor. She was no amateur from the git-go
Atlas: Probably singing with Gene at the Sean Scanlon Barcelona Boat Parties and the old Wild Rose. Those were some wild, heady days, and I’m just so glad that we all experienced them together. Dancing till it hurt and waking up with the best kind of bruises. Also, Gene sat in with my band once when we opened for Elvis Costello at a private party. That was my dream band, although I don’t ever see him being a sideman!
Both of you are known for writing a lot of original material. Share a bit about your personal thoughts on song-writing.
Casey: Even before I could play the guitar, I was writing my own little tunes. I blame the Beatles. Something about those early Lennon-McCartney songs just made you want to write your own. The challenge for me was—and is—to write songs that can stand beside the great classics that we love to play. The greatest compliment for me, in a way, is having an audience respond to an original tune just as they would to something by Chuck Berry, perhaps without them realizing it.
Atlas: Songwriting is my own personal chess game and I don’t need anybody else to do it. It’s all on me, and I love that.
What moves you to write a song these days? Describe your process.
Casey: Usually a lyric idea or phrase will rear its head first, and then we are off and running, with the words and music racing to the finish line. My songs are really very simple, musically. Most songwriters will tell you the ones that come fast are usually the best ones. That’s been my experience.
Atlas: There are two types of writers: those that write every day and those that write when something truly hits them. I’m the latter. It can be a twist of a phrase or a great hook or sometimes a life event, but when a song wants to come out it lets you know it, as it won’t leave your head until it’s done.
You will both be performing at the Dan’s Papers Best of Concert with your own bands, but will we be seeing you perform a couple of tunes together that night?
Casey: It depends entirely on whether Nancy’s babysitter can work overtime. I would love to.
Atlas: Hopefully. We are already rubbing our rock-and-roll hands together to cook up something special.
READ PART II OF THIS INTERVIEW NEXT WEEK!
The Dan’s Papers Best Concert and Dance Party is at at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead on Friday, November 15 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit danspapers.com/best-of-best-2013/tickets