When he’s not on tour, Casey Turner is either at his house on Oahu or the one in Pacific Beach. He’s wrapping up an extended stint in Hawaii and will be flying back here next week for a new string of local shows.
“I tour two months every year in Hawaii,” Turner said by phone from Oahu. “This is my ninth tour of Hawaii.” A singer/guitarist/ukulele player known for his “island beach rock” vibe, Turner often plays solo over loops he records for each song, giving his live shows a fuller effect. He has built a demand playing resorts and showcase concerts on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.
“I don’t go to Maui much any more. I think it’s due to all the mainlanders who have moved there who have the least aloha. It’s now the least friendly of all the islands. I pay attention to how cool people are to one another when I decide where to play. I pay attention to friendliness.”
Turner says he’s only dealt with the Kilauea volcano indirectly. He says you can’t see the smoke from Oahu, but sometimes you can feel it.
“It all depends on how the wind blows.” He says all the islands can be affected by Vog (smog heavy with sulfer dioxide). “It affects people in different ways. Some people get headaches, tiredness or get coldlike symptoms.” Turner says he happened to miss the Big Island by coincidence this time. “The way the media covers it, you’d think the whole island is covered in lava.”
Before he gave up engineering and moved west to take up music full time, Turner worked as an engineer for NASA at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Some of his former co-workers who he worked with on the last Space Shuttle project introduced Turner’s “Waves On The Ocean” single to astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who decided to take song to the International Space Station with him. Turner said at the time that it was the first island-reggae song played in outer space.
Casey Turner, "Waves on the Ocean"
Casey's in space
Turner says he had only communicated with the astronaut who gave him aeronautical airplay via email. But he never thought he’d meet him at an event he played at La Estancia La Jolla. “When I got there, I received an email from the CEO of the company who told me that by complete coincidence Shane Kimbrough was speaking at the same event. It came in an email titled ‘Our minds are blown.’ The company had no idea that my song had gone into outer space, let alone that the astronaut who debuted it was booked to be speaking at the event with me.
“After the event, Shane said ‘Hey, do you want to go grab a beer’… We talked about space and how it was a cool thing for a guy like me to meet people like him and try and influence people through music.”
Casey Turner performs Friday, June 22 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Sunday, June 24 at the Union Kitchen and Tap Gaslamp, as well as June 28 at Stone Brewing, Escondido.
“I’m playing SoCal all summer long until September, when I’m headed off to the East Coast.”