Interview Narrative with Olympia, WA musician and friend, Joe Cason

Joe, 64, lives in Olympia, Washington with his partner, Mary Jane. He is an keyboardist with the band, The Quartet. Over the years, he has learned how to say no, so now he only plays gigs that he feels right about.

As a youth, Joe’s first defining exposure to music started with piano lessons. With a couple years of practice, he became a fairly good piano player. Joe was also a very active organized sports player too. So when he was in the sixth grade his father gave him a choice. Either he could continue piano lessons or play baseball, so Joe choose baseball.

In the eighth grade while in the cafeteria at his junior high school, Joe was again struck by the music bug as he heard a band practicing on a stage behind a curtain. Along with this, there were other things also influenced him to get back into music such hearing what live electric guitar music in 1965 sound like, the Beatles, and the band, Bennie and the bad guys. Finally he really care about the music. He started to play piano again as there was a piano in the house. He also began using his ears to recreate songs a technique he still uses today when he rehearses with his band.

In 1973, Joe and other musicians, formed the band the No Toy Boys. The No Toy Boys were a Greatful Dead cover band. As Joe likes to say, “A museum for the cover band.” For six years, he was working musician traveling to California, Oregon, Washington and Western Canada. His band, The No Toy Boys, were famous for playing the music that LSD partakers like grooved too. Even partaking in a bit themselves while playing. Eventually The No Toy Boys stopped playing full time and became fairly well known in the Olympia, Bellingham, and Seattle area.

In addition to playing music, Joe is also a music composer and writer. Joe’s process for writing music comes from a place of desperation. He finds that when he is in a situation that he is feeling stress the music comes to him clearly and these feelings allows him to take the things he needs to say and put them down as content for a song.

When  Joe is not working as a Hazardous Waste Inspector for Washington State Department of Ecology, he is composing an album called,”Notes from Sea Level” with his close friend. Bob. The idea for this album came about in 2011-2012. During this time, Joe thought he was not going to be around for very much longer due to  cirrhosis of the liver, so he began this project as an artifact. With passing time, the album is becoming more elaborate. When the album is complete, Joe plans to make two hundred copies of the album and hand them to out to close friends and college radio stations.