Otherlands: A Global Music Exploration from Casey Driessen

Casey Driessen has always been something of an enigma in the fiddle world. No one challenges this five stringer’s virtuosity, or his dedication to interesting and unique fiddle music. But he has always gone down the road less traveled, at least as compared to his peers.

After graduating from the Berklee College of Music’s strings program, under the tutelage of Matt Glaser, Casey embarked on a solo tour featuring himself and his fiddle, using an array of looping devices to build up highly orchestrated pieces one part at a time. He has also worked with a wide variety of artists, including Darrell Scott, Tim O’Brien, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and Steve Earle, before accepting a faculty position at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. There he served as Program Director of the Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) masters degree the college offers.

While living in Spain, Driesen refined his concept of chopping on the violin, and released a number of instructional videos using these techniques, as well as a technical primer, The Chop Notation Project.

During the down time in 2020 when live performance opportunities were curtailed, he embarked on yet another adventure, traveling throughout Europe and Asia producing on-site audio and video recordings in collaboration with experimental fiddlers wherever he stopped. The result is finally coming to fruition with Otherlands:ONE, an audio project set for an April 23 release on Red Shoe Records, and Otherlands: A Global Music Exploration, a 25-episode video series which captures both his musical partnerships, and the places they were shot as Casey and his family toured the continents.

We invite you to take in one of these today, a video of the recording of Driessen with fellow fiddler Esko Järvela, captured on April 10, 2020 in a tiny community center in the small town of Kaustinen in Finland where Järvela lives. This short film is called The Finnish Cabin and Fiddle House, and captures Casey and Esko recording in the old wooden building along with scenes of the people and the landscape of east central Finland.

Audiophiles will notice the use of both large diaphragm and cardioid capsule microphones to pick up the two violins on this medley of traditional Nordic tunes, Kouon Frouva and Orpolasten Polska.

Of this track, Casey says…

“The 3/4 time landscapes are really, really interesting. There are pushing and pulling and changing harmonies in places I don’t expect.”

Returned now to the US, the Driessen family is ensconced once again in their home in Asheville, NC, following a two-week camping quarantine before reentering society.

Both Kouon Frouva/Orpolasten Polska and another track, Aye Nagari, are available now as singles wherever you stream or download music online.

The complete album, Otherland:ONE, will be available for purchase on April 23.

Other videos from Otherlands: A Global Music Exploration can be viewed on Driessen’s YouTube channel.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.