Casey Abrams blew some minds when he showed up on stage with his stand up jazz bass during the 10th season of “American Idol.”
“It was pretty grueling at times,” reflected Abrams of the whole “Idol” experience, but he enjoyed it and made some great friends along the way, including celebrity judge Randy Jackson who Executive Produced Abrams’ self-titled album for Concord Music Group, and Haley Reinhart with who Abrams recorded a Christmas 2011 single, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
“I plan to work with Haley on some stuff again,” said Abrams.
Weaned on his mom’s oldies records, Abrams later studied jazz and classical music at Idyllwild Arts Academy and University of Colorado before hitting the radar via “American Idol,” which though only a finalist and not a winner, put him on the concert trail to the big time.
Since the release of his CD last June, Abrams has been on the road. “I have a guitar player with me and we just added a saxophone player. They will both be with me Sunday in Valparaiso (at Chicago Street Theatre).”
“I’m an upright bass player primarily,” said multi-instrumentalist Abrams. “It wasn’t my first love and it wasn’t my first instrument, because I played piano and clarinet before I picked up the bass, but it’s what I like playing most on stage.” One of Abrams’ biggest thrills to date was being asked by Jack Black to play jazz bass with Black and Kyle Gass during a Tenacious D gig at The Catalina Club in Los Angeles.
“We moved from Austin (Texas) to Chicago (Evanston first and then to Wilmette) when I was in preschool and we left in fifth grade for California,” said Abrams. “I was here long enough to soak up some of the music vibe and I love coming back to Chicagoland.”
Abrams credits his music teachers from elementary through high school for his success as a professional musician today.
“I wouldn’t be talking to you now if I hadn’t learned to play the recorder when I was kid in school,” he said. “The public school arts programs, not just music, but all the arts are so important to helping kids find themselves. It’s a real shame that the arts and sports aren’t both supported equally, because they are equally important and can change a person’s life.”
Opening Sunday’s 7 p.m. concert at Chicago Street Theatre (154 W. Chicago St.) is regional singer/songwriter Robert Rolfe Feddersen, whose original music has been featured in a variety of films and television programs. Feddersen’s latest studio album, “American Loser,” was recorded this spring “old-school” on analog tape with veteran producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Veruca Salt, Cheap Trick) at Albini’s Electric Audio Studio in Chicago. More: www.robertrolfefeddersen.com
Casey Abrams guests tonight at 6 p.m.on “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore. Listeners can call in to win tickets for Sunday’s Abrams/Feddersen concert at Chicago Street Theatre. Stream the show live: www.lakeshorepublicradio.org/radio.
• Motown and blues fill the room tonight at Maxine’s (521 Franklin St.) in Michigan City when Luke Pytel brings his band to the Euro-style bistro for an 8 p.m. show. Catch Northwest Indiana’s guitar virtuoso Marco Villarreal & The MV Project there for a 7 p.m. performance on Saturday, as an added value to The Taste of Michigan City and The Super Boat Grand Prix Boat Parade. More: www.Maxines521.com
• My condolences to veteran regional musicians Travis Lane Fugate (of Jebco Black) and Kenny Fugate (of Mister Right), on the loss this past week of their beloved brother Ricky Fugate (age 42) of Hobart, after a long illness.
• Catch local rockers DREAMZ filling the night air with party rock covers at Indiana Beach when they do a weekend run Aug. 8-10 at The Rooftop Garden with Chris Karp of The Crawpuppies sitting as special guest in on drums for these shows. More: www.reverbnation.com/dreamzrocks