Along with behind the scenes studio photos and dynamic onstage shots from recent Los Angeles area gigs, Casey Ahern recently posted on her Instagram page a pic of her standing proudly next to a small plane. She revealed to fans that “for the past few months, I’ve been working towards getting my private pilot certificate and yesterday, I flew my first solo flight.” The multi-talented 19 year old singer/songwriter’s longtime passion for flying is a powerful metaphor for her emergence as an insightful musical storyteller and powerhouse artist and performer. There are unlimited opportunities on the horizon since the recent release of her infectious debut EP He Was Summer.
The Southern California based Casey, who has been performing consistently with her band since she was 16, defines herself as a contemporary country artist. Yet her stylistically varied songs and intimate yet quirky vocal style tap into an inviting throwback vibe that brings to 2019 sparkling touches of the early 70s Laurel Canyon style – a little Joni Mitchell, a twist of Jackson Browne and the classic Cali country vibe of the Eagles.
Casey found the perfect producer to help convey her blend of soulful, heartfelt ballads and romantic nostalgia in producer David Brown, a veteran of the legendary Village Recorders and Cherokee Recording Studios who has worked with everyone from Fleetwood Mac (including solo works by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) and Alice Cooper, Willie Nelson and Frank Zappa.
“David brought out elements of that classic Fleetwood Mac sound that I love so much,” she says, “but thanks to my parents, I grew up listening to country, all decades of country music, from Glen Campbell to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and so it’s got a unique mix of influences. As my first EP, the songs represent the different aspects of who I am as a person and artist, and the people, places and values that are important to me.”
A longtime fan favorite that she likes to open her shows with, Casey wrote the EP’s buoyant yet wistful title track “He Was Summer” in 2015 as a spirited ode to the California Mid State Fair, a two week county fair located close to her family’s ranch property in Paso Robles. The song is a classic summer anthem, a sweet love story rich with dizzying metaphors and colorful, witty details of her life and experiences up at the ranch and fair. Casey keeps the whimsy flowing on “Indio,” a playful romp about “going loco” in the desert as all the different world renowned festivals (Stagecoach, Coachella, Desert Trip) roll into town. The singer taps into her deeper artistry and a true poetic spirit on the EPs two ballads, the emotional, regret and ambivalence filled post breakup song “Like I Do” and the unabashedly romantic “Take Me By The Hand,” inspired by her parents’ many years of love and devotion.
Paving the way for the release of He Was Summer, Casey and her band have built a loyal, continuously growing following over the past few years with rousing performances at L.A. hotspots like The Mint and The Viper Room and the popular SoCal venues The Canyon Club (Agoura Hills), The Arena (Simi Valley) and Borderline Bar & Grill (Thousand Oaks). While her performances now feature exclusively her original material, the set lists once included old school rockers like “Baba O’Riley,” “Listen to the Music” and “Big Yellow Taxi.”
Growing up in the Thousand Oaks area, Casey recalls that there was always music playing in her house. Her dad introduced her early on to his favorites Glen Campbell and Jackson Browne, while her grandfather was an Eagles devotee. When her parents took her to a Faith and Tim show around the age of seven, she developed a passion for contemporary country and groups like Rascal Flatts. She and her younger sister Haley (who is pursuing a career in commercial dance and choreography) were always performing skits for the family. Eager to cultivate her musical talents, her parents enrolled her in the Children’s Music Academy, where she learned piano; she started guitar lessons at age seven.
Taking her high school equivalency exam at 16, Casey began performing live while attending Moorpark College, where she enrolled in the Applied Music Program for Voice and Guitar and also studied journalism and was the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper. After attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music for a semester, she headed for a few months to Nashville, where she played open mics at the Bluebird Café and Douglas Corner Café and co-wrote songs with various Music City musicians. During this time, she also penned “And Me,” the debut single she released in April 2018.
“I’m really excited about the response I’m getting for He Was Summer, and I look forward to booking more regional shows in California and also going on tour,” Casey says. “Playing live is where my heart is, and I want to travel anywhere I can to share my music and make people feel something. I strongly believe that life is what you make it, and where there’s determination, great things can happen. I am a spontaneous person by nature and love change, so embracing the unknown and seeing where the journey takes me from here is really exciting.”
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