As your Executive Director, many of you know me and how I came into bluegrass and many of you don’t. Over the next month each one of the board members will be writing a short bio on themselves so you all can get to know each of us better. I will try and keep my story short.
For as long as I can remember bluegrass as been a part of me. From a very young age I would tag along with my grandparents and go to jam parties. I was 9 years old when I got up on stage for the very first time. It was at the Oldfield Opry and I had both sets of grandparents on stage with me and the whole family watching in the crowd; from that day on I never looked back. I knew I wanted to play and sing.
As I grew up I started playing with other people, besides my family, and really got excited about bluegrass. My parents had always told me I had to finish college and then if I wanted to play music I could but I was going to have an education to fall back on. When I graduated college I had a tremendous opportunity to go work at the International Bluegrass Music Association. It all happened so fast and before I knew it I was living in Nashville and working on Music Row. I loved my job and loved the new life I had, getting to go to cd release parties, meeting celebrities and even working at The Station Inn. While I was working at IBMA, I met Valerie Smith and she offered me a job to play bass in her band. I was very excited about this opportunity and was able to still work some with IBMA and travel with her so I jumped on it.
I got to travel the world playing music; I went on cruises, traveled to Europe, Canada and almost every state in the USA. I really loved the life I was living but I knew I couldn’t do it forever. I wanted to settle down and think about the future. At the time Kelly (then boyfriend) had moved to Nashville to give our relationship an honest shot and he didn’t want to be married to a full time musician and I could totally understand that. I “retired” from the road and took a job at a booking agency. Keith Case and Associates was the perfect transition for me. I was still working in the industry but I got to come home every night and I was still working at The Station Inn (which made it very difficult to get up in the morning). Kelly and I grew closer and soon we decided that it would be best for us to move home and start our life together.
Moving home was such a blessing to both of us but we weren’t home for long. Kelly took a job with the government and we moved to Nebraska. We met some incredible people there and were able to share our love of bluegrass with the folks up North. I had started playing with Midnight Flight at this time and was driving 9 hours back to Missouri to play shows. That is true dedication….or an excuse to come home to visit family. J Either way we were ecstatic when Kelly got transferred back to Missouri. We had left newlyweds and came back with a baby boy.
Once we were home I really started thinking about all the bluegrass musicians in this area and thought that it was a shame that we only saw each other at festivals. I thought that if there was a centralized organization we could bring bluegrass to more people and maybe reconnect with ones that we had not seen in years.
My bluegrass family is just like true blood family to me and I would do anything for them. Being able to build this organization from the ground up has been such a blessing. I am so humbled by the support of so many people. I knew that it was going to be a lot of hard work but for me, the ability to share bluegrass with others makes it worth it. Bluegrass is not a hobby for me it is a way of life and I can’t imagine a life without it. I am extremely lucky to have found a partner who is as dedicated to the music as I am. It would be hard to continue my life in bluegrass if I didn’t have such a supportive husband.
Kelly and I are finally starting to play music with each other. This is the first time we have been in a band together and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for us. I hope that our boys will catch the bluegrass bug and have the same passion we do about the music so many people love.
-Casey Grimes Freeland