Musician Casey Wickstrom will reference a lot of artists when it comes to who was influential in his career. Indie rock bands, guitar players, punk rockers – it’s a long list loaded with names – some familiar, others not. But despite dropping names like TV On The Radio or Morphine, the musician, who currently lives in California but grew up in Durango, cites the local bluegrass scene as being a major player in his musical world of significance.
Wickstrom, however, is not a bluegrass musician. He plays rock ’n’ roll in all its complicated glory, from minimalist indie-rock to jam and groove, to dark rock ’n’ roll. Sometimes, he plays with a drummer, other times, he’s tied into a looping machine, creating layer after layer to simulate a band.
Casey Wickstrom will perform tonight at the Mancos Brewery and again on Sunday at 11th Street Station in Durango.
“I think some of the most influential aspects of my style now came from my time spent in Durango, especially because of the bluegrass scene,” Wickstrom said. “I play lap-slide, and when I came out here to California, a lot of people hadn’t seen that before. For me, it was second nature because I would see that so often in the bluegrass jams downtown and I’d hear it on the radio. That style was familiar, and it felt like home to me, so it’s cool to incorporate that into what I’m playing now, which has more of a rock vibe.”
Wickstrom is on tour in support of his newest release, “Bleed Out.” Recorded locally at Scooters Place, it’s an album of laid-back slacker rock, instrumental guitar-heavy prog, and aggressive rock ’n’ roll delivered with punky sneer.
“There are different influences for different songs,” he said. “My 20s I got a little darker and more extreme, I was turned onto different artists and getting heavier. So, the dynamic of the album expresses my affinity for these different genres, some of which are old, some of which are newer.”
For these shows, Wickstrom will be opening for himself, first performing a set where he’ll play multiple instruments backed by the looping machine, followed by a set where he’ll play guitar with Austin Vidonn joining him on drums.
“I like the raw ferocity that comes when you don’t have that raw bottom of the bass, so it’s kind of that White Stripes, Two Gallants thing, and the tones that I can get out of the guitar remind me Robert Quine, who played with Richard Hell and The Voidoids,” Wickstrom said. “There’s a kind of minimalist approach that I like to take when it’s just Austin and I. So yeah, it’s a different experience than the album. The album is more controlled in some ways because that’s what studio albums do; you have more control with the approach you take. But live, its one and done. The feeling may be a little bit different, it may feel a little more minimalist and a little more fierce, but we’ll let the people figure that out.”
Wickstrom takes a salesman-pounding-the-pavement approach to his music career. Social media recognition may help with the record sales, but Wickstrom wants to get in front of an audience and play to the people; it’s a door-to-door method.
“I never want to lose sight of that, ultimately, you can have so many followers on any given social media platform, but how many people are actually engaged? That’s so much more important than a few Instagram likes,” he said. “I think it’s just that connection with new listeners and old listeners. I have people coming to my shows that have been seeing me play for 10 years. That to me is the most important and intimate part, to share that with people. Real people, not just Instagram handles, but genuine interaction. That makes it worthwhile.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.