Casey Van Beek & the Tulsa Groove – Heaven Forever
The legendary J.J. Cale may have passed but for those in need of a Cale fix former Tractors’ bassist & baritone vocalist Casey Van Beek may come in the right dosage.
Casey’s solo LP with the Tulsa Groove Heaven Forever, drops April 24 from the Little Village Foundation.
Now, this is not an imitation but an artist who has that remarkable tone, & groove. The opener “Roberta,” Cale’s own “Since You Said Goodbye,” “Superstitious,” is soothing, yet exciting. There’s no hangover if you listen too much (which you’ll do, as I have done).
Produced by Walt Richmond (piano, organ & drums) in Tulsa, OK — Casey is the epitome of an artist at ease with his vocal style & sells it. Not an imitator, pompous, bombastic, or trying to sound like someone else. This is the man in his element & fortunately, he has the creds to carry it off with aplomb.
By Van Beek’s 3rd song “Solid Ground,” written with Walt he drops the Cale & actually sounds like he’s conjured his inner Hoagy Carmichael. A beautiful ballad, old-fashioned lyrical tempos. But on Van Beek-Richmond’s “Thinkin’ Bout You,” the Cale vocal & guitar ghost looms hauntingly thick. The song is excellent.
Musicians in the groove: Casey (bass, vocals), Walt (keys, drums), Jim Bayfield (lead guitar on 8-tracks), Steve Hickerson (lead guitar on 4 tracks), Charles Tuberville (guitar on 6-tracks), Jared Tyler (dobro, mandolin & guitar), Seth Lee Jones (guitar – track 2), Steve Bagsby (steel guitar), Steve Wilkerson (sax ), & Ron Getman (acoustic guitar).
A shuffle on “I Got Loaded,” continues the J.J. Cale tone but Van Beek continues to put his own spin on the sound. Maybe Cale wouldn’t sing a song like this, but Van Beek is polished. At no time listening am I distracted from the similarities between Cale & Van Beek. There’s so much respect that it’s a hat tip to the master done with precision. A relaxed Tulsa-bluesy style that made Cale famous with decades of persistence. Van Beek refines it.
“Sugar Bee,” sounds like Eric Clapton doing Cale. This is a rock from an old tradition – pushed through a blues colander & coming out steamy & good. The musicians are proficient. I’m bopping in my chair on a rainy day, my soul’s in a Tulsa saloon groovin’ with a wide-eyed grin.
Not sounding so Cale-like is the well-arranged “Heaven Forever,” but more in a Dr. John/Leon Russell niche. The tune has those old-fashioned country laden 60s strings, equally effective.
“If You Don’t Love Me,” is like an outtake from Cale’s “Grasshopper,” LP – quite good too with Wilkerson’s sax & Walt’s piano. The balance is all Cale-style blues with a delicious Tulsa touch. Music I’d listen to all day & if I played proficiently I’d learn.
The 35-minute CD is available at the Little Village Foundation & Discogs. Website: https://www.facebook.com/littlevillagefoundation/