Andy Casad's purely instrumental organic sound has a special place in the patchwork of Ashland's music scene. Casad fluently plucks on his guitar, playing all original songs that he describes as instrumental progressive folk.
"But people classify us as all kinds of things," he said.
Casad demonstrates his skills in a song called "Rites of Passage," which he performed at the Tidings Café recently accompanied by Ben Comer on guitar and James Versteeg on percussion.
"I just came up with that riff and Ben just came over the next day or so, while it was extremely fresh," said Casad. "A lot of the music that we do instead of just laying stuff over the top, we really like to put ourselves inside the music."
Even though the trio has dabbled in different genres over the years, all three members finally settled on an acoustic folk sound with an emphasis on instrumental performance.
"The instrumental part brings a different element because in that way it is completely universal," Casad said. "When you bring lyrics into it you divide immediately; someone can disagree completely with what the lyrics are about but the music can be spot on."
When Versteeg and Casad started to play together in high school about 10 years ago, their sound was a far cry from acoustic folk. "I used to play with a full drum kit and we played hard rock," said Versteeg, "We'd wake up the next day and our necks were sore from head banging."
After getting their start as the staple band to play at their friends' barbecues, the three avoided playing in bars while their youngest member was underage. Now that Comer has turned 21, they are taking the opportunity to play at local wineries.
"We've been doing some wineries out in Gold Hill and the Applegate Valley," said Casad. "It is a good mesh for the kind of style that we do."
The group takes pride in the creative process and a native sound that comes from not overproducing the music.
"Playing folk music is raw and unsynthesized. Everything that we've been playing is straight out exactly what it is, it's all human," said Comer.
As many Ashland musicians do, Casad, Versteeg and Comer often perform solo or with other Ashland musicians. "I do a lot of things with Alcyon Massive, T Club and Frankie Hernandez, Aaron Reed with Monk and a few other bands," Casad said. "It's nice to get our names out there and help promote."
Taking advantage of playing with other musicians in Ashland is mutually beneficial to Casad. "There is an amazing group of musicians down here in Southern Oregon, and it would be terribly wrong not to get together with everybody and utilize everybody, because that's how you progress as any kind of musician, is to play with other people."
When asked what their ideal gig would be, all three men replied in unison, "Britt."
"We want to take it as far as it goes and keep having fun," said Casad.
Andy Casad will be performing with Alcyon Massive at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Rogue Coffee Roasters, 237 S.W. G St., Grants Pass.
Mandy Valencia is a freelance writer and videographer living in Ashland. Reach her at email@example.com.