Ukes in space! Former NASA engineer Turner will have his tropical tune “Waves on the Ocean” played on the space station this year.
Before he started working at NASA, Casey Turner played in a punk band while studying mechanical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology.
“Our band was called Liquid Image because we played punk and we all surfed,” Turner says about his former band of tech students. “After I got hired on [at NASA] we were still playing. We coined the term ‘punk rocket science.’
“I actually knew Jack Johnson before he got big. Jack had our album Molotov Cocktail Party.”
"Waves on the Ocean"
Casey Turner live at Humphreys, October 2015
Turner worked at NASA “at the tail end” of the space-shuttle program, testing propulsion systems.
He ended up leaving Florida, aerospace, and punk.
“I realized life was good and I ran out of angst.”
For work, Turner took a job at a Poway company that developed some of the first fuel cells for cars and buses. When that firm folded in 2010, he says, “I wanted to record an album and do music full-time.”
And like Jack Johnson, Turner made a musical U-turn, segueing from punk to a mellow groove.
Turner’s attraction to the ukulele drew him into his own “island beach rock”/reggae vibe that enveloped his self-produced debut album No Stress Express.
While he said that album did not make him rich, it got him radio airplay at 70-plus stations in Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and the Philippines. “And it helped me book shows in Hawaii and Florida.”
But it was his time at NASA that led to his music getting launched into outer space.
His former NASA colleagues convinced astronaut Robert “Shane” Kimbrough to take Turner’s latest single “Waves on the Ocean” with him into space. The song will be played on the International Space Station.
Turner says it will be the first island-reggae song to be debuted in space.
“It’s a complete honor,” says Turner. “I immediately contacted the astronaut and thanked him. I hope I can get them to make a video of it when they play it.”
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Turner says when he played the Eureka restaurant/bar at UTC August 18 he got another surprise.
“Four of the chief NASA technology officers were in town for a conference. They dropped by to see me play and give me an autographed picture from [astronaut] Shane.”
Turner leaves today for a two-week recording session in Hawaii with producer Noah Cronin (the Green, Anuhea, Sammy J) and returns for a September 17 show at the Helix Brewing Company and for a Chargers pre-game warm-up on September 18 at Quallcom Stadium’s club level.
The local outer space “launch party” is September 23 at the 710 Beach Club, the same day Kimbrough heads off into outer space, launching from Russia aboard the Soyuz rocket.