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September 29, 2012

Stilly Studio: Jason Cassidy talks about his start in music, aspirations

STILLWATER, Okla. — Texas musician Jason Cassidy grew up on rock, but another genre of music drew him into being a professional musician.

“Ever since I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a rock star,” he said. “And I remember this project that we did when we first got to school and it was kind of getting the class familiar with you and the teachers and just list everything you’re interested in and my favorite song was, ‘Smoking in the Boys Room’ by Motley Crue at 5 years old.”

Cassidy said he loved music growing up. He got his first electric guitar at age 13 and started to learn southern rock songs and 80s hair band tunes.

“(I learned) just a few; enough to have a loud amp and annoy my parents,” he said.

But around that time, his best friend introduced him to country music. He was hooked. He started acquiring country albums.

“I got all of George Strait’s tapes at the time and Reba’s and Waylon’s and Willie’s just trying to cram my head with everything and really fell in love with it,” Cassidy said.

As Cassidy puts it, he still loves “rock and roll, but country stole my heart.”

He said country is more simple.

“A lot of people are doing that stuff that’s real easy to listen to on the radio and everything else, but I want that song that brings you back to that breakup that really rips your heart out and makes your stomach sick,” he said. “That’s the kind of country music I grew up on and I’m trying to keep it going.”

His first foray into performing on-stage came after a night out with his best friend at a karaoke bar. Cassidy sang songs from Toby Keith and George Strait. The person running karaoke was in a band that had just lost its singer. He was amazed with Cassidy’s voice.

“About two weeks later they called me and said, ‘We want you to sing with our band,’” Cassidy said.

But his work with the group lasted six months before he was let go.

“They fired me and humbled me up a little bit,” he said.

He joined another group for a while before returning to his original band. He said he had grown up in that time.

The band played together for a few more years before a dispute with a band member, whom Cassidy said threatened him and told him he would be nothing without the group, caused him to leave on his own this time. He left the band at a performance following the Pasadena Rodeo in 2006. He would return six years later to headline the main stage at the rodeo as a solo artist.

But his successes didn’t come very fast.

“I put my heart and soul into everything I do and for the longest time I was playing in bars seven nights a week waiting for it to come,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, I sing OK and the songs are pretty good. What ain’t happening?’ And it doesn’t work like that.”

He said the catalyst behind his eventual success was his wife.

“When I met her it was at a live CD release party and it was some of my songs and mostly cover songs that I redid,” he said.

A friend introduced the two. Eventually, she invited him to attend church with her.

“When I went to church that Sunday, everything just hit me,” he said.

Cassidy said it felt like the preacher was speaking directly to him. He knew he wanted to start making changes. When he got into his truck following the service, he began to write the lyrics to the song that would become the title track of his debut album, “My Redemption.”

The album was released independently in 2010 and remastered and re-released in March 2011, he said.

“It’s great,” Cassidy said. “Everybody says you can listen to it from start to finish.”

The group is preparing to release a new single in January.

“We’re going into the studio in November and recording for the next album,” he said. “I’ve already got most of the songs written for it.”

Cassidy will have the chance to work with accomplished songwriter Larry Bastion, who helped pen Garth Brooks’ hits “Unanswered Prayers” and “Rodeo.” Cassidy said he’s been humbled by all he’s had the chance to do and the impact his songs have had.

“I just want to be still making music and I want to guess kind of be like George (Strait) where he’s taking time off from touring and spending more time with the family, but I still want to make music and I still want to do a tour like he does every year, six months a year, three months a year and be able to raise my kids and raise my grandkids,” he said.

His family and fans continue to push him, he said.

“One fan lost his girlfriend in a motorcycle accident,” he said. “He got hurt real bad and he lost her. He would log on to my website every day and listen to ‘Sounds Like an Angel to Me,” which is a song I wrote about my wife.”

He said the fan told him it helped him through the coping process.

“It’s stories like that ... this is what I was supposed to do,” he said.


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