It's nearly 3am New Year’s Day 2014 in an underground club in Stuttgart Germany, a mixed crowd of hep cats and chicks, hipsters and even some squares from all over the world are yelling and stamping their feet to call him back. Only an hour earlier the champagne was gone and the excitement seemed to be slowing down, but now the crowd is going wild demanding yet another encore…
In just two days time Chris Casello will be back in Nashville Tennessee knocking out the crowds in the downtown honky tonks.
Guitarist Chris Casello is one the most dynamic and entertaining guitarist in the world of roots music today. Casello takes his influences from Les Paul and Chet Atkins to Chuck Berry and Link Wray, multitasking guitar, steel and vocals in a high energy swinging rockabilly blues explosion.
Originally from the Detroit area, Chris has worked with dozens of artists and toured the world, specializing in roots styles from swing, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and country.
Chris Casello has been honored as the # 1 Honky-Tonk Hero 2011 by the Best Of Nashville Scene and has been listed among the Top 10 Best Dressed in Nashville by MyFashionMaven.com! Casello has been honored by Detroit Metro Times polls in the jazz, country and rock categories and was recently nominated in the Best Musician category for Austin’s International Ameripolitan Awards 2014. Chris is a second generation inductee into The Rockabilly Hall of Fame and is a Kentucky Colonel.
The last decade has seen many celebrated names sitting in with Chris Casello and the boys at Roberts Western World In Music City : Lee Roy Parnell, Mel Tillis, The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Katie Morgan, Brooks and Dunn, Kid Rock, Sam Bush, Joe Nichols, The Mavericks, Jeanie C. Riley, Jack Greene, Hal Ketchum, John Rich, Dierks Bentley, etc. Chris has also jammed with greats like Vince Gill, T. Graham Brown, Ronnie Bowman, Albert Lee, James Burton, The Texas Tornados, Connie Smith and others on the road and in the studio.
Chris has worked professionally with Carlene Carter, Wanda Jackson, Mark Collie, Wayne Hancock, David Ball, BR549, Los Straitjackets, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Trisha Yearwood, Stonewall Jackson, Crystal Gayle, Tommy Tutone, Jim Ed Brown, Don Maddoxx, Marty Stuart, Rosie Flores, Carolina Rain and many others.
Chris Casello has enjoyed long working relationships with Sun, Fortune and Motown Artist Johnny Powers and many other pioneers including Jack Scott, Billy Lee Riley and Bo Diddley to name only a few.
Any Chris Casello show always features mind boggling guitar and stage tricks so embedded in American roots you can smell the greens and taste the hot sauce.
The Chris Casello Story
The odyssey that is the Chris Casello career began playing classic rock n roll in Ann Arbor Michigan, USA, the burgeoning socio-political and musical centerpiece of the Midwest.
When Chris was 8 years old he got a guitar and an Elvis Presley record for Christmas. From that day on he was hooked. By the time Chris was a teenager he was playing in the big rock clubs of Detroit. Casello learned from and played with many motor city artists from The Stooges, MC5, Mitch Ryder, Commander Cody and Motown’s roster , eventually joining the now legendary garage gods, The Watusies. This led to a stint in The Urbations supporting Bo Diddley and Martha Reeves.
Inevitably the influence of his hometown kicked in and his rockabilly journey began. The long hair was replaced by the famous pompadour that he still sports to this day. Chris studied blues and jazz and hillbilly music and his path became clear: Play American Style. Chris embraced the concept of bringing yourself to the tune instead of playing cover songs exactly how they were played on the radio. There was no going back.
Casello studied jazz guitar under Johnny Lawrence and jammed in David Swain’s II-V-I Orchestra. He played in various bands doing everything from country to blues to surf music and recorded with The Prodigals (Happy Hour Records). Chris also began teaching guitar to up to 70 students a week at the famed Herb David Guitar Studio.
Chris formed The Starlight Drifters in the late 1990s. Swing was flourishing again and the band toured all over the USA appearing at many festivals, released several albums and many of their songs were used in film. Their musicianship and great visual performance meant they survived the death of the swing revival movement. They became Jack Scott’s backup band and later Johnny Powers’. Casello took on a more prominent vocal role and began to master what he’s now well known for – multi-tasking the steel guitar with incredible lead guitar licks. The Starlight Drifters final CD 13 to Go was released on Rollin Rock in 2001 to exceptional reviews and later released on the Scana label abroad.
Chris discovered the Starlight Drifters were popular in Nashville clubs and on WSM radio so in late 2003 he made the move south, reforming the Starlight Drifters with Mark Winchester from The Brian Setzer Orchestra and Mark Horn from the Derailers. This rockabilly combo eventually became the Chris Casello Trio, later replacing Mark Horn with Jimmy Lester (Los Straitjackets) and Mark Winchester with Dave Roe (Johnny Cash) and Johnny G. d’Artenay. Roberts Western World became home-away-from-home and Chris also joined the house band, Brazilbilly.
Since 2005, Casello has appeared multiple times on The Grand Ol’ Opry and the Lincoln Center in New York City. He has made dozens of trips to Europe with Carlene Carter, Jack Scott, BR549, Johnny Powers, Wayne Hancock and The Real Elvis Tribute tours as well as doing his own shows and European tours. Casello has also appeared in music videos and on theatre stages.
More recently, analog recording and production have become a new love. Working exclusively on tape, Casello has released four albums under his own name. He has produced and collaborated with Sue Moreno (Jungle Records), produced Matt Butcher’s album, ‘The Kids are Gone’. Recently he produced and arranged for Johnny Powers on the Jack White Tribute Album (Cleopatra).
Chris Casello tours and performs live in the USA and Europe with the Chris Casello Trio, Brazilbilly, Johnny Powers and his new surf/instrumental band, The Sabres. Chris works as a session player, writes his own material and teaches guitar using the Chris Casello System.
‘If you've ever had your mind blown by a guitarist who looks a little like Silvio from The Sopranos, then you know the guy. Whether he's fronting his trio or working as a sideman (most notably, with the fabulous Brazilbilly), he stands out more for what he doesn't play: while a lot of other axmen try to wow you with their gazillion-notes-a-second chicken-pickin' virtuosity, Casello is a paragon of taste, emphasizing melody, groove and a healthy dose of musical humor, as he combines vintage country, slap-back rockabilly, blues and jazz. And he's a badass steel player to boot.’ - Jack Silverman, Nashville Scene
A recent review of Chris’ latest album:
‘A kick ass ride with one of America's wildest guitar players. 'The Nashville Years' is a compilation full of Chris's original songs and dynamite guitar playing. Recorded using tubes and tape and no digital monkey business.’ - Rockabillyworldwide.com