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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Jim Casson


By Ken Wallis.



Jim Casson is one of Canada’s premiere drummers and he’s amassed enough awards to prove it, and recently he’s been nominated once again for the best drummer at the upcoming Maple Blues Awards. But he’s far from a one-dimensional musician. Read on to find out more about the rockin’ world of Jim Casson.


Ken Wallis interviewed Jim Casson for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for clarity and length.




Ken Wallis

There's a new album out by Davis Hall and the Green Lanterns, and joining us to talk all about it is the guy that drives it all, Jim Casson. He's the drummer for Downchild, The Maple Blues Band, The Hogtown Allstars, and The Mighty Duck Blues Band. He's a producer, promoter, educator, and web designer. My gosh he does just about everything. Jim, welcome to the show.


Jim Casson

Wow I sound kind of busy, I don't know if I have time for this now after all that [LAUGHTER]


Ken Wallis

Oh well, we'll make it short, so you do have the time. [LAUGHTER]


Jim Casson

Thanks Ken, thanks for having me. How you doing?

Ken Wallis

I'm doing just great. Let's get the first two obvious questions out of the way. Where does the title for the group come from?

Jim Casson

Davis Hall And The Green Lanterns. First of all, there is no Davis Hall, it's a fictional character. The name Davis Hall was a community centre, it was a building as a kid where I went to nursery school and that’s where they would have all the community dances and stuff like that way back in the 70s. It was the Community Hall and I thought that sounded like a good name for a person. The Green Lantern was the name of the soda shop, convenience store, in my local town when I was a kid and I used to go there and buy hockey cards.

Ken Wallis

Well, I hope you got some great rookies left.


Jim Casson

If I can find them, I think I had a couple.


Ken Wallis

They're worth a bit of money these days. So this is the second album that's come out under that name. Why is the title of the album called Canboro Canborough?


Jim Casson

Canboro Road is the street I grew up on. What's interesting about Canboro Road is, and you don't hear it by saying it, but on the album the word is spelled differently on two different sides. One which is Canboro, and the other is Canborough. Canboro Road it runs from basically from Fonthill out to the town of Canborough and when you get past a certain point the name changes from Canboro to Canborough. I always said that was interesting that different sides of the highway is different spellings.


Ken Wallis

I know you've got a quote on your website that I actually slapped up there, and I say this album actually defies description except for the music is great. So how would you describe this music?

Jim Casson

It's funky, it's New Orleans funky, it's instrumental to start with. I like to think it's a lot of fun. I say there's a lot of laughter on this album, and I mean that literally and figuratively because a lot of the sound clips that we inserted were actually of people laughing. It just felt right when this album was developing was that turned into the main sound footage clip to be used was people laughing and enjoying themselves.


Ken Wallis

And the clips are quite interesting.

Jim Casson

The intro on the first song on Carrottown is actually from a parakeet training record. It was put out by Hartz Mountain Records and I found it somewhere when I was a kid and I've had it for years. I actually used it when I recorded a song back when I was a teenager. We did some crazy instrumental thing and used this clip, so that shows how long I've been actually pursuing this noise. But yeah it's a training record that you used to put on to help your parakeet to learn how to say words.


Ken Wallis

Well, that's a little dangerous. We've got friends in Florida, they have a parrot, and they have all of their lights controlled by voice commands. The parrot has learned all the voice commands and turns things off and on. [LAUGHTER]


Would you consider this album different from the first one? Is it an outgrowth or is it very similar?

Jim Casson

It's a bit of an advancement. We tried to focus the sound a little more. The first album was spread around a lot more different genres, had some more cinematic aspects, had a few more guests on it. This album we kind of decided what songs from the first album really set the tone for what we wanted, so we whittled it down to the core band of drums, tuba, two guitars and some keyboards on a few songs. So it's a little more focused. It sounds a little more like a band than a than a project. So yeah I would say it's a bit more of a focused idea than the first album. Even though the first album had a lot of critical success and I still really like it, but this kind of narrows down the genre a little bit.

Ken Wallis

I just love the inclusion of the tuba. It really makes it a distinctive sound.


Jim Casson

It gives it that sort of New Orleans vibe and Jay Burr is the tuba player, and he's such a spectacular musician. He can go anywhere with that instrument musically, but he also knows how to hold down the fort and hold down the groove with this silly drummer he's got to work with on this album.

Ken Wallis

Where can folks get a hold of the album?

Jim Casson

It's available on iTunes and on Bandcamp but if you go to greenlanterns.ca, that has all the links for purchase, links for download, digital download, physical CDs, and for the streaming links but as well. I like to say the streaming links, they don't pay the bills. I was lucky enough to get one of the songs on one of the Apple official playlists, which is great and I was thrilled about it. Over the last few weeks it's garnered like 5,000 streams and I was like wow that's incredible. And then I did the math and turns out that's $15.

Ken Wallis

Well, you're not going to exactly buy a Cadillac with that.

Jim Casson

No, I can put a down payment on a cup of coffee and a donut.


Ken Wallis

How are you finding the industry? Are people going to your website and buying the physical CDs or are they more paying to download?


Jim Casson

A bit of both, but unfortunately I think most of it is been streaming. I think a lot of people bought into the idea that they're paying for Spotify or for Apple music every month and so they're going to use it, and they're fully within their rights. It’s just unfortunate for the musicians because it just doesn't pay the money that we need to keep doing this sort of thing. I have had quite a few people who have streamed it quite a bit, and have come up to me and then purchased a CD as well, because they feel that's the way they should do it. One guy said yeah, I won't even open this, I'm going to keep streaming it so you keep getting your fraction of a penny every time. But he bought the CD and so there's still people that will do that, but it's kind of a split between the digital and the physical. Streaming is just a little too tempting and it certainly doesn't help the artist at all. It's difficult that way, but that's the that's way the industry is so we just have to keep figuring out a way to to keep making music .


Ken Wallis

I did read an interesting article, they were saying that CDs are actually coming back now in popularity.


Jim Casson

I’m surprised, I've got boxes of them,


Ken Wallis

I was talking to a couple of people at shows and they said we'd like to buy a CD, but our computers and our cars don't have players anymore and I said buy an external CD player that's got a plug to your computer, and then you can rip it and do it wherever you want. And that's what people I think are starting to do now, which is great.

Jim, it's been great chatting with you again, and all the best on your new project.


Jim Casson

All right, thanks very much Ken, thanks for having me on.





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