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Thursday, August 13
Show | 8pm // Doors | 7pm

THU AUG 13 | 7PM

Casey Noel’s timeless, captivating music will remind you of the many ways songs can enrich a life. A skilled singer-songwriter crystallizes the grace of a moment, honors and beautifies sadness, gives wings to something tender, something fun – something longing for flight. Casey’s work, gathered for the first time on her Americana-tinged debut release Not Just Pretty Words, does all of the above and more.
24-year-old Casey has been on an artist’s path most of her life, though this hasn’t always been apparent. The initial spark was an act of generosity from someone who recognized promise in a very young Casey: her Costa Rican grandfather, who gifted his 5-year-old granddaughter with a Spanish guitar. Although lessons in classical technique followed, honing Casey’s fingerpicking skills for what was to come, the budding guitarist’s primary passion from age 8 to 17 was actually competitive ballroom dancing. “But then I realized I lived in North Carolina,” she says. “And no guys here dance. So I started focusing on playing guitar.”

Soon after Casey switched from classical to steel string acoustic – a game changing turn of events – her mother, Olga, insisted she sing for her guitar teacher, Kevin Dollar. A seasoned music professional, Dollar would prove to be another generous, pivotal figure. Not only was he impressed with his longtime student’s voice, he saw something more beneath the surface. Dollar encouraged 17-year-old Casey to try songwriting, which had not occurred to her. “I didn’t know anything about the business,” Casey says. “I didn’t know about shows other than arena shows, or even the concept of a singer-songwriter. It took me a while to have confidence in myself to write songs that I thought people might want to come hear me play. But when others told me I could do it, I kept at it.”

While attending college, Casey devoted ever more energy to her muse – writing, learning to trust her instincts, venturing into a recording environment, and eventually playing100-plus dates a year, wherever and whenever. All the while, her self-assurance grew. And of course, life played out, like it does, with love, loss, wonder and hope – all the stuff of great songs.
2018 would prove a crucial turning point, at legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist Richard Thompson’s esteemed Frets and Refrains songwriting camp near Woodstock, NY. Casey won a scholarship to the four-day, all-ages camp, which featured teachers Thompson, his son, Teddy, and folk icons Patty Griffin and Happy Traum. Teddy Thompson, known for unvarnished criticism of attendees’ work, would be the pivotal figure this time.
“I needed to hear from an unbiased person in the industry what they thought of my songs,” Casey says. “So a couple other campers and I played for Teddy.” Upon hearing Casey’s rollicking but wise “Pretty Words,” he said, “That’s a hit. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Richard Thompson himself gave Casey one-on-one advice. “I learned songwriting skills from him that I use to this day,” she says. “How to keep your brain active, what to do if you get stuck, how to make songs uniquely yours.”
Soon, the time came for Casey to give back, and be the generous one. Seeing a lack of opportunity for North Carolina songwriters, and encountering little support from established scene-makers, she took to heart the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Casey launched Spotlight Sessions, a recurring songwriters-in-the-round event, which she hosts at Greensboro’s Carolina Theater. Now in its second year, Spotlight Sessions has turned into a mecca for artists and audiences eager to hear from the wealth of talent in the area. “It’s helped me grow as an artist,” Casey says. “Because it’s always inspiring to meet and interact with other artists, other performers.”