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Folks Like Us
Cory Case busks across Europe, tours America with the Shys
Cory Case is a folker. And, as the new bassist for the Shys, a rocker.
When did you start playing music?
When I was about 7 years old, I picked up the violin. I was really into classical music—Beethoven, Mozart, Bach. I played in the school orchestra. After that, I picked up the guitar at about 12. My dad taught me. I played in a band when I was 16. We played local places like the Galaxy and Dennis Rodman’s old place. All the guys went to college. I decided to keep going and got into my own stuff acoustically.
How did you start your solo act?
My bass player and I did a little tour in Europe. We decided to pick up and go out there for a couple of weeks and see what we could do. We ended up sitting in front of a little place called La Methode our first night in Paris. We played our own tunes. There was a big crowd around us. They asked us to come in and be their band for the rest of the trip.
Did you have any shows booked, or did you just go to Europe without plans?
We just went over there and figured we’d give it a shot and get our music out there. We did pretty well. At the beginning of the trip, we were giving our CDs out. By the end, we’d go into a pub and hear our music playing.
Does the portability of playing solo acoustic music help?
Absolutely. It makes things a lot easier. But actually right now, I’m playing bass in a band called the Shys. We’re going to be touring across America the next few months.
Is it a more traditional rock tour, with booked shows and getting in a van?
Yeah. It’s my first one of those. It’s going to be pretty cool. I’ll always have my music and be playing it, but I’m doing this now, too.
How would you describe your solo music for people who haven’t heard it?
I’m not breaking any formula or doing something that hasn’t been done before, but it’s natural and it’s free. It’s folk kind of stuff, singer/songwriter stuff like Jim Croce, James Taylor, Neil Young.
It seems like there’s a little country mixed in, too. How does that come from an Orange County kid?
I don’t even know. I guess it comes from listening to stuff like Neil Young, Bob Dylan and John Denver. They have a very country feel.
There’s a fair amount of harmonica in your songs, too. Do you wear the harmonica neck thing? When did you start playing harmonica?
Yeah, I use a neck holder. I was hanging out at a buddy’s house one day playing guitar and singing. The harmonica was pretty simple. You just have to train your mind to do it, and I’d done that with playing guitar and singing at the same time.
Doing both solo acoustic music and playing in a rock band, how do you find Orange County as a musicians’ home?
I like Orange County. It’s great. There are so many cool places, and it’s amazing for solo artists. You think there are only places for the big bands, but there are a lot of places you can play where people just want to come and listen to good music, and not be all rowdy. Not everyone wants to be blown away. But sometimes they do. I can play a party. I can play a bar, a sit-down quiet thing. I really love doing both.
Does your classical music background as a kid ever influence your music today?
After violin, everything else was easy. It’s a hard instrument to play. It was different; much more structured. I try to keep away from things like reading notes off a page. I just let it flow. There was a lot I took from it, but I don’t incorporate too much of it when I’m writing a song or making something new. But it helped. It’s good to be able to do that and understand it, but at the same time, I like a little less structure.