If you aren’t wearing seersucker and sipping a mint julep when listening to Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels’ tunes, you’re missing out on the whole experience. One can easily picture this classic country-inspired septet performing on the grassy lawn of an old plantation-style home nestled somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line. Performing throughout the summer all over the Denver metro area, including a set at the UMS on Saturday, July 26, Casey James Prestwood spoke with AXS in this exclusive interview.
AXS: Are you all Denver natives? If not, where is everyone originally from?
Casey James Prestwood: I was born in Virginia, grew up in Georgia and spent my adolescence in Alabama. Kevin is from Illinois, Jeff hails from New Hampshire, John Macy is from Lubbock, Texas, and Adam Lopez grew up in California.
AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Casey: There may have been a few shows before it, but Quixotes with New Riders Of The Purple Sage in 2009.
AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels?
Casey: In 2005, I went to The Grizzly Rose for the Rocky Mountain Steel Guitar show hosted by
Dick Meis. I saw this band called Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams and was like "if this what Denver's country scene is like, I want in."
AXS: What else is Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels involved in locally, either as individuals or as a group?
Casey: We all have day jobs that range from Arborist to Golf Pro... most of us have family and we all like to stay active with community events.
AXS: Is the group currently working on any projects?
Casey: Almost a year in, we are still promoting our last album, Honky Tonk Bastard World. It's something we worked hard on and want to keep it fresh in people's minds.
AXS: Does the group have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are there certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Casey: Well, classic country is definitely in there, with a large slice of Gram Parsons, but we are most proud of our original work.
AXS: What would your band's ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels?
Casey: Any show? Rymann Auditorium sharing the bill with Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam. That's one tall order.
AXS: What brought Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels together?
Casey: I hooked up with Kevin, our drummer backing up this guy in Breckenridge. We had never practiced and maybe ran 5 tunes and then played to a packed house. So we decided to keep it going and recruited our friends Stork and Adam Stern to put a band together.
AXS: After five years together, what have you learned from working with Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels?
Casey: Wow, it's been a huge learning experience in most ways. Basically trials and tribulations of the road and how hard the local music scene can be for genre like classic country. How important family, friend and fan support is to prolonging the project. Could not do it without them.
AXS: What lessons did you bring to Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels after working with Drag the River and Hot Rod Circuit?
Casey: How to do things right. How to NOT do certain things. Basically lessons in band life like transportation, where the band fits in in the "scene". How step up and develop my own taste of music without compromise to becoming a good frontman.
AXS: Besides your upcoming performance at the UMS, what other shows are you looking forward to this summer?
Casey: Friday, August 15, Hi-Dive with Andy Hamilton and the Whisky Hitchers; Friday, August 29, Little Bear with Whitey Morgan and the 78's; ANY show at the Star Bar Denver; Sunday evenings at the Park House, and we all just went to see Merle Haggard together at the Paramount. Sort of "homework" for the band while enjoying a killer show!
AXS: How would you describe a Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels live performance to someone who has never seen the band perform live or listened to any of its music?
Casey: We want folks to be caught off guard with a sound you can't find in Denver. It may take a little time, but before you know it, you might have a new favorite band.
AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Casey: That it's up to you to do your own thing in a sea of bands trying to "make it." We've had to carve out our own niche and make a name for ourselves. We can play a rock show with Drive By Truckers or straight up country night and still hang. It's hard sometimes, but we love the challenge.